Our hosts told us to pack ear plugs. But, I find the night-time singing of the tree frogs relaxing. The repeated onslaught of rain that crashes down the hillside behind our little cottage, slams into the tin roof above my head, and then stops without warning is another story. And so now I am awake, lying in the dark, anticipating tomorrow and listening to the tree frogs.
Tomorrow is the Rainforest of Reading festival here in St. George’s, Grenada. Tomorrow we will meet the 2500 Grade 3 and 4 students on this beautiful island. Tomorrow each of the authors and illustrators who have travelled here from Canada will give twenty 15-minute presentations in centres set up around the nation’s massive cricket stadium. Sonya White and Richard Clewes, our hosts at OneWorld Schoolhouse, have already demonstrated their resourcefulness and ability to negotiate the challenges of organizing an event of this magnitude by locating this venue after our original home fell through at the last minute.
So we approach tomorrow knowing there will be more thinking on our feet, but knowing we are in good hands. I’m lying here worried about the rain that comes without warning and how it will impact my centre in the open-air hallway outside gate 117 of the cricket stands. I’m concerned about how to make my 15-minute presentation a worthwhile contribution to this festival and these students. I feel the pressure of a huge responsibility.
The schools here in Grenada have no libraries and next-to-no books. The public library was closed after hurricane damage in 2004. There are no current plans to re-open it. This festival is the talk of the island’s teachers and students. There is appreciation for the books and the opportunities that it has brought on everybody’s faces. I hope my presentation about a Skink on the Brink, delivered in the hallway outside Gate 117, will make a contribution worthy of all the effort that has gone into bringing me here.