Children and books take centre stage

This year’s Children’s Book Festival at Camana Bay attracted huge crowd of young families on Saturday.

Cystic Fibrosis

In true Fancy Nancy tradition illustrator Robin Preiss Glasser shows how you can being stylish is fun.
Photo: Elphina Magoona

The annual event, hosted by the Cayman Islands Cystic Fibrosis Trust in conjunction with Camana Bay, was the opening chapter of the two-day festival, which culminated in the ever-popular Bedtime Story Fun Day at Dart Family Park in South Sound on Sunday.

All of the action at Saturday’s event took place at Camana Bay, inside the Books & Books store.

Highlights of the indoor event included an interactive presentation by American illustrator Robin Preiss Glasser; storytelling sessions by Gimistory artists and performers Rita Estevanovich and Nasaria Suckoo Chollette and a lively presentation and interactive session by Jackie Preiss Weitzman.

Ms Preiss Glasser, a former ballerina, took centre stage and gave a notable performance. Most recently known for her beautiful drawings in the wildly popular Fancy Nancy children’s book series, she certainly knew how to hold an audience.

Resplendent in a glittery tiara, sparkling cocktail dress and an over-the-top pair of high heels, she held the large group of parents and children spellbound. Ms Preiss Glasser read excerpts from some of the Fancy Nancy books, in the store’s book-lined Kids’ Room, explained the process behind her imaginative illustrations and taught some of her younger followers the finer points of deportment by getting them to balance bananas on their heads.

The illustrator signed books and chatted with Fancy Nancy fans making sure to make everyone feel special, despite the queues.

Author Jackie Priess Weitzman, who incidentally is Ms Preiss Glasser’s sister, was also well received. The knack for creative performance seems to run in the family and the author of the popular picture book series You Can’t Take a Balloon Into… carried her young listeners away with her.

She also signed books and spoke about her passion for her work.

Outside on the Paseo, children were kept entertained for hours and took part in a number of well thought out craft activities sponsored by both Camana Bay and by Maples and Calder law firm. Three of the most popular al fresco draws of the day were the Wands and Tiaras booth, sidewalk chalking and the colour your own canvas bag booth.

Bedtime Story Fun Day

Now a firmly established event for children of all ages across Grand Cayman, the Bedtime Story Fun Day held the day after, on Sunday, did not disappoint.

This multi-faceted event, which promotes raising literacy levels, always lives up to and exceeds expectations.

This year, as well as attracting noted illustrator Ms Preiss Glasser, the Fun Day was graced by the presence of children’s author Ms Priess Weitzman.

Parents, grandparents and green-kneed children sat spellbound on the grass at the verdant park to take in several book readings, including ones by first-time author Hylton Grace who read from his book When Badness Left Town; a hands-on reading session by Cayman Prep teachers Sian Harrison and Lisa Beck and a book reading by Evelyn Walsh. Compeer Andrew Bacon, who sported a Cat in the Hat hat, kept the line-up flowing.

Too numerous to name all, the park was dotted with many booths. Games stalls and raffles attracted youngsters eager to win and win big. The prizes were good and included Fancy Nancy books. Hunger was kept at bay by various cake stands and a hot food stall that did brisk business.

Many came early and stayed late, catching up with old friends and making new ones at this well-organised and well-attended event.

One of the organisers of the weekend’s children-centred events, Pam Fowler of the Cayman Islands Cystic Fibrosis Trust, said: ‘I was so pleased with the turnout for the Bedtime Story Fun Day. A real crowd came out to hear the storytelling and join in all the fun carnival games to raise funds for the CF Trust.

‘I think we raised lots of money, though we are still adding it all up. One child said to another volunteer, ‘This is my favourite day of the year!’ That’s what makes it all worthwhile.

‘Thanks to all the volunteers and sponsors who were all so generous.’