Children’s stories come alive at Bocas Lit Fest

A report from Trinidad and Tobago’s Newsday.

AS the NGC Bocas Lit Fest rolls out a second year of an all-virtual festival, from April 23-25, young ones can look forward to dynamic and engaging online content on two days of the festival.

The children’s sessions will come alive in myriad exciting ways for a fresh crop of young readers and writers as it features some of the best storytellers, local talent, and stories written by children during the past ten years of the NGC Children’s Storytelling Caravan.

While the pandemic has paused the traditional caravan that toured communities across the country, actors and technical producers have translated the caravan’s published tales into animations, dramatisations and learning content, to be shown on the Saturday and Sunday mornings of the Bocas Lit Fest’s 11th annual festival, the largest literary festival in the Caribbean, said a media release from the festival.

Nikki Crosby, Farouk Jr, and Joan Osborne, known as “Auntie Queenie,” lend their acting skills to Dragonzilla’s Storytime, a series of dramatic enactments of children’s stories. Around the storytellers, local flora, fauna and ocean life dance and swim past, to create a surprising new story experience.

Two new animations will premiere during the festival’s Sunday line-up, highlighting Tobagonian culture and heritage – Drama at the Tobago Heritage Festival and Rock Fishing at Bloody Bay. These join 2020’s popular animations which focus on local folklore, legends and cultural heritage, but seek to emphasise values of co-operation, environmental conservation and national pride.

According to the children’s festival director, Danielle Delon, these lessons written by children of TT, are needed more than ever now by youth and adults. Also in the programme is Mary Cuffy’s original drama Lola and the Battle of the Bugs. Directed by Penelope Spencer, with a cast of young talent, the presentation takes young viewers into the stickfighting gayelle.

Lola and the Battle of the Bugs, an original drama written by Mary Cuffy and directed by Penelope Spencer, will be shown during the NGC Children’s Bocas Fest on April 25 at 9 am. –

Rounding up the children’s programme are readings from popular Caribbean children’s authors and illustrators, including Summer Edward, Danielle Boodoo-Fortuné, and Amazon bestselling author Reea Rodney, and poems and short stories with educator Gregory Thompson.

In 2021 the Bocas Lit Fest will launch the Bocas Children’s Book Prize, a new prize for Caribbean books for readers aged seven-12, supported by the Unit Trust Corporation. The prize will open for entries on May 1, with more details available post-festival on the Bocas website.

All festival events are free and will be streamed live via bocaslitfest.com, facebook.com/bocaslitfest, and youtube.com/bocaslitfest.

NGC is the title sponsor of the festival, First Citizens is lead sponsor, OCM and the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and the Arts are main sponsors, and NLCB, Massy Foundation and UWI are sponsors.

April 24

10-10.30 am: NGC Children’s Bocas Lit Fest featuring animations, Dragonzilla’s Storytime with Farouk Jr and Joan Osborne and author readings.

April 25

9-10 am: NGC Children’s Bocas Lit Fest featuring new animations, Dragonzilla’s Storytime with Nikki Crosby, Lola and the Battle of the Bugs play, and author readings.

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