“Barbadians can now draw on a new resource to learn about the richness of their Crop Over heritage,” these were the words that Michelle Springer, the Cultural Officer, Research and Documentation of the National Cultural Foundation (NCF) used to describe the new Crop Over Activity Colouring book for children.
The recently released colouring book comprises mazes, word puzzles and colouring pages that feature many local folk characters such as the Shaggy Bear, Tiltman and Muddah Sally as well as traditions such as sticklicking, the Landship and the tuk band. The original draft of the book was produced for Crop Over 2018 with visuals created by NCF Cultural Officer, Visual Arts, Rodney Ifill.
This original draft grabbed the attention of NCF Chief Executive Officer, Carol Roberts-Reifer who decided to expand its scope and scale to produce something that was not only attractive, but intellectually engaging. She remarked, “I wanted a colouring book that could be compared with and be displayed alongside any other colouring book produced anywhere else in the world…I just wanted people to see it as a very interesting and exciting opportunity for children to learn about their heritage while having fun.”
Springer mentioned that one of the objectives detailed by the NCF CEO was for children to see themselves as participants of the Festival, explaining that our traditions and their origins are increasingly forgotten and so they wanted to design something that was appropriate for both children and adults.
The Research and Documentation Officer noted that it was important to the Foundation to continue the discourse on our heritage in a way that parents and educators have not been able to do before, while also recognising the connection to African folk characters.
She commented on the overwhelmingly positive response, highlighting the popularity of adult colouring books in recent times and adding that parents are interested in it because they not only see it as an important tool to connect with their children, but they also like the activities – it’s therapeutic.
For the production of this particular Crop Over colouring and activity book, the NCF brought on board Cherise Harris, a local illustrator to help design the book. She was enthusiastic about the whole process and described how much she enjoyed researching and learning more about the history of Crop Over.
“I think developing a colouring and activity book for children was a great idea. It’s going to allow children the opportunity to interact with a part of Barbadian history in a different way, and will be a fun learning experience.” Harris explained that illustrating books is usually a collaborative process but the historical nature of the book required a lot more back and forth which helped to strengthen the ideas and final product.
A limited number of the colouring books are currently available at the NCF. The Foundation will be distributing copies of the colouring book at Junior Kadooment, the Scotiabank Junior Calypso Monarch competition and at Bridgetown Market.