'No Boy Like Amanda' goes to Friendship Primary
In 2010, Friendship Primary School, first-time entrants to the Junior Schools' Challenge Quiz, lost their first match and were knocked out of the competition in the first round. Four years later, the Spanish Town-based school opened the season by beating four-time champion Windward Road Primary, eventually advancing to the quarter-finals.
This achievement caught the attention of Jamaican children's author Hope Barnett, who donated 10 copies of her novel, No Boy Like Amanda, to the school's library on Friday. During the presentation, Barnett congratulated the team and coaches on reaching the top eight, as well as being the top-performing rural area school in the competition.
"I am from a rural parish, St Ann, and so I am happy to see rural schools excelling. Many times, we hear about Kingston-based schools and hardly enough about the great things happening outside of the Corporate Area. During the competition, I was cheering for Friendship Primary. I was, indeed, very proud of the team. They played well and should be proud of their performance, even though they did not win," Barnett said in her address at the school's general assembly.
Thanking Barnett for her generosity, Lennox Grant, vice-principal, said they really appreciated the donation which came at an opportune time as the school is currently focused on developing its library, which is in grave need of books and a librarian.
"We have been asking the ministry to assign us a librarian or a teacher/librarian, but nothing has happened. Instead, we have been asked to reassign a member of staff to the library, but we don't have the resources for that. In the School Development Plan, the library was to be a central area, and also a key tool to help in the improvement of literacy," Grant explained.
Relevant to Jamaica
The VP, and acting principal, also congratulated Barnett on developing a novel for Jamaican children. "We not only need books, but variety as well. One of my personal concerns is that the majority of the books we have are American and American-based. We need more Jamaican and Caribbean books that the children can relate to. That's why I especially appreciate No Boy Like Amanda. We need more books about Jamaican people in the library," Grant said.
Set in a rural district in Jamaica, No Boy Like Amanda tells the hilarious story of a young girl's adventurous summer holiday as she determines to participate in every activity with her four brothers. But as she flies kites, rides a bicycle, swims, goes fishing, crab hunting and plays marbles, she soon learns - after many scratches, tears, and laughter - everyone has his or her own strengths.
No Boy Like Amanda is endorsed by the Ministry of Education as a suitable supplementary text for primary level students, starting at grade 3, to "address themes such as identity, courage, perseverance and ambition". It is currently being used as a supplementary text in some schools across Jamaica, along with a Teachers' Study Guide to help students identify various themes in reading comprehension.