GIRL WONDER: "I love fantasy fiction," shares the young writer.
For parents in the market for summertime pageturners for their kids (especially those in Grades 3 to 6), a terrific option is the acclaimed debut novel Lyla Lyte and the Li'Berry Fruit by 10-year-old Jamerican prodigy I'deyah Ricketts, whose impressive talent for prose has prompted publications like Time Out Chicago Magazine and the Chicago Defender to anoint her "a rising star to watch" and "a source of inspiration." Plus, who can resist someone with that name?
I'deyah, who easily stood out as a featured author at last Sunday's Kingston Pon Di River Festival, is not letting the praise get to her head. In person, accompanied by her mom Karen Reynolds, the young writer is refreshingly grounded and seems certain of who she is and what she's about. "I love fantasy fiction," she tells me, "so I read a lot of fantasy books like Harry Potter."
Her novel has its own ample supply of fantasy and the spirit of adventure as it follows the titular heroine on a fascinating quest. Critics like Kirkus Reviews have described it as "a fast-paced and well-written novel. An impressive story about a girl whose courage transforms a town." Up next is the second instalment in the series (Lyla Lyte and the Loot Tree), set for publication later this summer.
As for her bright future, I'deyah says she intends to study medicine, in addition to pursuing a serious writing career. Naturally, Reynolds plans to continue nurturing her daughter's creative joys. "I'm very proud of her," shares Reynolds. "I love that she's been given this opportunity for her to connect to her roots and share with her peers. And I hope it inspires other parents to encourage their kids to follow their dreams."