Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) President Luis Alberto Moreno, international artist and education activist Shakira and the ALAS Foundation have partnered again to recognize and reward the early-childhood education improvement and innovation champions in our region. The ALAS-IDB awards are given in four different categories: Best Centre, Best Children’s Story, Best Innovation, and Best Educator. The spotlight is on T&T as its very own Jeunanne Alkins has been selected as a finalist for the Best Children’s Story award.
From March to September, the sandy beaches along the coasts of Trinidad and Tobago come to life, and Jeunanne wants everyone to know about it. Actually, it’s even more personal than that: Jeunanne wants everyone to care, and that’s because the shifting sands are just the first act in the Caribbean Islands’ longest-running ritual.
So, what’s going on down there? In Jeunanne’s book, “Ready. Set. Hatch!” … it’s Hatch, the baby leatherback turtle!
To tell the story of Hatch and millions of other baby leatherback turtles in Ready. Set…Hatch!, Jeunanne uses maps, facts, and an lots of really cool images she illustrated herself to tell the story of an ambitious and inventive turtle’s struggle to reach the sea. At the same time, Hatch’s story teaches kids about the migratory patterns and ecological importance of the leatherback turtle. As a kicker, she’s also hoping to remind Trini parents, many of whom have never been to see baby turtles hatch, that an amazing phenomenon occurs each year, right in our own backyard. Jeunanne’s ability to interweave these three efforts into a story that is both educational and entertaining is a testament that learning can be fun when we mix art with information.
Jeunanne is working on other stories that she hopes will help Trini children see the value in preserving the historical and natural wealth of their island. One of her current projects, The Adventure of Bim and Bam, follows two young children as they chase down their own curiosities about Trinidad, and occasionally even stand up to the forces that threaten the environment. Another of her books, The Magnificent 7, brings the seven historical mansions of Trinidad to life, teaching kids about the history of our island through the stories of these homes.
While Jeunanne’s projects appear to deal with different subjects, several characteristics unite them. Within the captivating illustrations, the sharp dialogue, and the curiosity-driven plots are important lessons for her young readers.
More information can be found here: http://www.iadb.org/en/topics/education/alas-idb/alas-idb-award-in-early-childhood-development,5918.html