Sunday, March 16, 2014

My friend and fellow children's writer Diane Browne is among the names on the shortlist for the Burt Award for YA literature in the Caribbean.I am singling her out primarily because I was the editor of her book as well as Series Editor for the Carlong Sand Pebbles Pleasure Series - this is the 9th book in the Series from Carlong Publishers (Caribbean ) Ltd.

I do congratulate all those shortlisted and wish them well. I know a few of the other writers.

I suspect that there might not have been a lot of entries fitting into the Young Adult (YA) section of writing for children in the Caribbean. There might still not be many writing for this age group.We still seem a bit hesitant to recognize that books for children differ according to the age range for which they are written. As soon as one mentions children's books, many people immediately think of picture books with bright colourful illustrations for the very young.

As we know, children develop at different rates, so books are geared to different stages of their development in quite arbitrary age ranges which should be used only as guidelines. The age divisions are mostly  marketing categories for grouping books on shelves by the target audience, and overlap for different publishers.

Broadly speaking the divisions are
Picture books for infants through preschoolers (read by adults to the children)
The early readers cater to those learning to read and include picture story books and early chapter books.
Next come  the middle grade novels for the age range  8- to 12 - the so called golden age of reading
Then there are the tweenies roughly for the 11-14 age group bored with the usual middle grade material but not yet ready of YA.

Young Adult (YA) stories and novels are effectively on the same mature level as works for adults, but deal with the concerns of that age group anywhere between 12 and 14 to 16/18. Here you will find books closer to the younger or higher end of this age group. Some of the contemporary YA novels are quite popular with adult readers.

I am happy that the Burt competition specified YA material and didn't just say books for children. It seems quite unfair to have a competition which includes all the different groups in one. Not even middle grade and YA books should be judged in the same category.

The Burt Award shortlist 

The shortlisted titles are:
  • Island Princess in Brooklyn by Diane Browne, Jamaica (published by Carlong)

  • All Over Again by A-dZiko Gegele, Jamaica (published by Blouse & Skirt Books)

  • Barrel Girl by Glynis Guevara, Trinidad and Tobago (manuscript to be published)

  • Musical Youth by Joanne Hillhouse, Antigua and Barbuda (manuscript to be published)

  • Abraham’s Treasure by Joanne Skerrett, Dominica (published by Papillote Press)

  • Inner City Girl by Colleen Smith Dennis, Jamaica (published by LMH Publishing)
The finalists were selected by a jury administered by The Bocas Lit Fest and made up of writers, literacy experts and academics from the Caribbean and Canada.

The first, second and third place winners will be announced at the NGC Bocas Lit Fest in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, on 25 April 2014.

Good luck y'all.

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