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The Wadadli Youth Pen Prize has gifted copies of Harper Collins’ Big Cat Caribbean books to the Public Library of Antigua and Barbuda and the Cushion Club Reading Club for children. Twenty copies total have been divided between the two entities.

(from the facebook page of the National Public Library)

This contribution is from the stash gifted to Wadadli Pen by the publisher for its 2021 Challenge. While some of the books went toward individual and school prizes – the winning writer was given copies to give to a school of his choice, Wadadli Pen wanted to make sure that the wider community of children had access to the books.

The books are from Harper Collins’ line of #ownvoices Caribbean books, meaning regional writers and illustrators, within the international Big Cat series of children’s books. The gifted titles include two by Antiguans and Barbudans and Wadadli Pen team members Barbara Arrindell (Turtle Beach) and Joanne C. Hillhouse (The Jungle Beach). The other titles are Finny the Fairy Fish by Jamaican writer Diana McCaulay and Sea Turtles by Kittitian-Nevisian Carol Ottley-Mitchell. The illustrators are Antiguan and Barbudan Zavian Archibald (Turtle Beach), Trinbagonian Danielle Boodoo-Fortune (The Jungle Beach), and Grenadian Stacy Byer (Finny the Fairy Fish).

The books have been receiving positive reader reviews online. One said of Turtle Beach, “This is an excellent read for children and adults. It is informative and keeps the attention of the reader. Even adults can learn much about the early life of the turtle. The illustrations are colorful and inviting and touch on the issue of conservation and preservation of animals.” Another said of The Jungle Outside, “It was a cute and heartwarming read. Can’t wait to pass it on to my young nephew and niece.”

It is Wadadli Pen’s wish that children in Antigua and Barbuda take advantage of the opportunity to access these books, ideal for children between 5 and 8, from public institutions like the library.

Director of the National Library, Ryllis Mannix, thanked Wadadli Pen for the contribution and congratulated “our very own, Miss Joanne Hillhouse and Barbara Arrindell and the other authors for having their literary work being a part of the Collins Big Cat series.” She said, “in the absence of books, children will fail to develop the required essential reading skills. This is a great opportunity for them to explore, borrow and engage with these books. Even in the presence of COVID-19, the library has adapted and continue to celebrate books and reading, as it partners with authors and its community of readers.”

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