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May 5, 2009

Book festival in Saint barth

Held April 23-26, 2009 the second annual Book Festival included workshops based on the theme “Why do I write?” as well as a book exchange in front of the Wall House. Invited authors Inès Bouchaut-Choisy, who presented “The Adventures of Monbarsgold,” the first book in a new series for children, Gisèle Pineau a writer from Guadeloupe, and Stephanie Blake, an author and illustrator of children’s books, visited the island’s schools throughout the week, and hosted book signings on Sunday morning.


A Saint Barth native, Inès Bouchaut-Choisy started her book project in order to teach children about the history of the island, while also transmitting basic values such respect, love, and sharing— values she feels are disappearing from our society. This ambitious project will include 12 volumes recounting “The Adventures of Monbarsgold,” in French, Saint Barth patois, and English. Each volume will focus on a different neighborhood of the island, with a DVD and CD with songs based on the texts, and a variety of related products.  In celebration of the publication of the first volume, “Corossol, Land of Love and Sharing,” Inès organized a costume parade in the streets of Gustavia on April 18, featuring the characters from the book. The parade concluded on the Quai Général de Gaulle, with various activities for children.

 

photo: Cécile Lucot


A Saint Barth native, Inès Bouchaut-Choisy started her book project in order to teach children about the history of the island, while also transmitting basic values such respect, love, and sharing— values she feels are disappearing from our society. This ambitious project will include 12 volumes recounting “The Adventures of Monbarsgold,” in French, Saint Barth patois, and English. Each volume will focus on a different neighborhood of the island, with a DVD and CD with songs based on the texts, and a variety of related products.  In celebration of the publication of the first volume, “Corossol, Land of Love and Sharing,” Inès organized a costume parade in the streets of Gustavia on April 18, featuring the characters from the book. The parade concluded on the Quai Général de Gaulle, with various activities for children.

photo: Cécile Lucot

Interview with the author:


St Barths Online: What inspired you to write these books?

Inès Bouchaut-Choisy: I felt the desire to write simply because I wanted to share with children some the experiences I had growing up. While 30 years ago Saint Barth was an island without any real resources, and not very developed in economic or cultural terms, I still had a happy childhood made up of simple moments such as jumping rope or playing hopscotch in the streets of Gustavia… When my son was born, I wanted to share those memories with him, but there aren’t any history books for small children that evoke the lives of children in Saint Barth, so that inspired me to start writing. I had to be able to really concentrate on this project so I decided to spend four months in the United States, in Sacramento, because I really like California. Sacramento also symbolizes the story of “The Little House On The Prairie,” and I felt that was the ideal spot for me to work on my project.

St Barths Online: These books obviously represent the fruit of a lot of work on your part, as well as meeting different people. Can you tell us how it all happened?
Inès Bouchaut-Choisy: I started to write in August 2007 using the epic of Captain Monbars as the basis for my storytelling, party because he really existed and because he buried his treasure near Gouverneur! During my stay in the United States, I met various people in Los Angeles, such as Chester Spiewak, a graphic designer who specializes in illustrating children’s books, and also writes books for young people. When I returned to Saint Barth in September 2007, I met Pascal Louis, who runs a nursery, but he has a lot of talents including a special flair with a pencil. He drew the characters for the book, which I then sent on to Chester in Chicago. Florence Voix did the layout for the pages in Saint Barth.

St Barths Online: Why so many volumes to tell the story?
Inès Bouchaut-Choisy: This story will be told in many episodes, as my desire is to explore every area of the island. The second episode will be “Gustavia, Land of Light and Splendor.” By creating my own publishing house, I am able to produce books created in St. Barthélemy.

St Barths Online: What is the message you hope to send to children?
Inès Bouchaut-Choisy: My message is to remind them about the values that allowed Saint Barth to become the island we know today. If we still have the chance to have an exceptional place to live, it’s because everyone contributed to protect this little rock. I am happy to see happiness in the eyes of the children that someone thought about them, giving them the chance to learn about their island by way of this story. I would like to continue writing for kids, because like many adults, I am still a child in my soul.
Cécile Lucot


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