Drawing attention

V’ajha Clarke’s illustrations in Heather L. Thompson’s book featured in Expo 2020 Dubai UAE ‘Children’s Tales from Around the World’

Heather L. Thompson was one of a few authors selected from worldwide submissions to be featured in Expo 2020 Dubai UAE “Children’s Tales from Around the World”. Her story ‘Ber Rabby’s Free Lunch’ has a surprising artist – it’s illustrated by 13-year-old V’ajha Clarke.

Clarke, an eighth-grade honor roll student at Bishop Michael Eldon School in Grand Bahama, illustrated the book that is described as a delightful cautionary tale, in the genre of traditional Bahamian folklore.

“At first, I was scared to do this project because I am not used to drawing animals – most of the characters I draw are in human form, so this was a challenge for me,” said V’ajha.

But she was happy she was able to do it, and that people were pleased with her work.

V’ajha is the author/illustrator of ‘The Cats and the Mats: Bahamas Vacation’ and her books will also be featured as part of The Bahamas showcase in Dubai.

V’ajha Clarke’s illustrations in Heather L. Thompson’s book “Ber Rabby’s Free Lunch”.

The teen’s mom, Vanessa Clarke, said if the world was not in a pandemic, her daughter would have participated in the Dubai Book Expo in person.

“That’s my one regret – who doesn’t want to go to Dubai? I wish I could have made that trip, but I understand that we have to be safe, and that’s a priority.”

V’ajha’s illustrations are in Thompson’s book, whose poetry has been published in “Anthurium”, “Tongues of the Ocean” and “Poui”. Thompson, a recently retired lawyer who is now engaged as a full-time writer, has also recently ventured into storytelling and the highlight of her storytelling career, to date, has been as a finalist in the 2020 NTUKUMA Ananse Sound Splash Storytelling Conference & Festival, where she told her original story, “How the Flamingo Became Beautiful”. She has told two other original stories, “How Miss Lucy’s Sperrid Was Set Free and “Obeah Does Work for Me” on recent episodes of Caribbean Folklore Storytime. 

V’ajha’s gift for art was discovered, by her mother, when she was six years old. V’ajha authored and illustrated her first book, “The Cats and the Mats” at the age of seven. She followed up her debut book with “The Cats and the Mats: Bahamas Vacation” for which she drew 43 illustrations. Her book is available on and she is currently working on her first novel.

Dubai’s Book Expo is intended to spark children’s imagination as they are taken on a thrilling journey to all corners of the globe, which was done through the second edition of Expo 2020 Dubai’s “Children’s Tales from Around the World”. The latest volume of the digital publication consists of short stories and folktales from 43 nations, brought to life by illustrations by schoolchildren like V’ajha and professional artists from across the globe.

Young readers can discover a host of memorable characters and the wonders of different cultures with a new digital book of 24 stories from five continents.

The beautifully illustrated stories are aimed at children ages five to 12 years old. Each is brought to readers by a participating nation at Expo 2020 Dubai, highlighting the theme of “Connecting Minds, Creating the Future” because with stories, one can travel anywhere.

To mark International Literacy Day on September 8, Expo 2020 Dubai launched “Children’s Tales From Around The world”, a collection of traditional children’s stories and folktales that celebrate the wonders of our planet and its people.

Combining compelling storytelling and colorful, evocative artwork, the digital collection of 24 timeless tales features words and phrases from 24 languages and is Expo 2020’s gift to children and families everywhere.

Many of the featured stories, contributed by some of Expo’s 190-plus participating countries, have been passed down through generations. They are brought to life by young artists from the country of the story’s origin, alongside professional illustrators and animators at Expo 2020, and around the world.

The stories have been chosen to help children explore exciting differences and shared values, broaden their worldview, and gain a greater appreciation of their own heritage – as well as develop a love of reading. The collection demonstrates how Expo 2020 is providing a platform for every participating country to share the best of their cultures, while inspiring young minds and sparking curiosity for generations to come.

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Shavaughn Moss

Shavaughn Moss joined The Nassau Guardian as a sports reporter in 1989. She was later promoted to sports editor. Shavaughn covered every major athletic championship from the CARIFTA to Central American and Caribbean Championships through to World Championships and Olympics. Shavaughn was appointed as the Lifestyles Editor a few years later.

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