December 06, 2018
It is not every day a tenth grader gets to pay an intimate courtesy call on the person who holds the highest office in the land, but then again, teen author Sierra Blair isn’t your average youth.
The Kingsway Academy sophomore was granted an audience with the Governor-General, Her Excellency the Most Hon. Dame Marguerite Pindling just days after releasing her second book, Roman and The Pink Flamingos at the iconic oceanside resort Atlantis and Ardastra Gardens, Zoo and Conservation Centre.
During the 20-minute visit to Government House Tuesday, Sierra presented both books to Her Excellency in a meeting that left an indelible impression.
“To speak with Her Excellency, someone I had only read about in social studies text books and to have her be interested in what I had to say was amazing. I saw a genuine love for the young people of this nation and that touched me, that she would actually take time out of her schedule to not only meet with me, but also inspire me,” said the 14-year-old who was greeted warmly by the Queen’s representative with a squeeze of the hand and later, an embrace upon her departure.
During the courtesy call, Her Excellency inquired about the book and creative process involved in bringing the series to life. She urged to Sierra to not only write children’s fiction but to one day delve deeper into the fabric of the nation documenting what she observed.
She noted, during her formative years, youths Sierra’s age were forced to leave school.
Bahamian law only required young persons to remain in school up to age 14, until 1996 when an amendment to the Education Act raised the school leaving age to 16.
“These students never had an amazing opportunity to become a published author at such a young age,” said Her Excellency who shared stories of her own humble beginnings. “Imagine what they could have become if they were allowed to stay in school.”
The young author grabbed media spotlights last year after launching her first book on Amazon where it is available in paperback and as an e-book. Ideal for teaching the concept of boundaries to children six and under, Roman & His Mean Family, is a 25-page picture book, which sees the precocious Roman labeling his family “mean” when he’s refrained from circumventing boundaries set for his own protection.
The independently published and newest children’s book, Roman and The Pink Flamingos, is a colourfully illustrated tale of a pink flamingos encounter at a bird sanctuary. The children’s book series is inspired by Sierra’s three-year-old brother, Roman.
According to the Governor-General much has changed since her days spent working as a commercial photographer. Most notably, respect for creative arts, including writing, photography and illustrations have grown, becoming more recognized and appreciated, she said. Sierra wasn’t the only one to be moved by the visit.
“I felt deeply honored to have the opportunity to meet and converse with the Governor-General. It was a surreal experience to have such an influential public Bahamian figure discuss a project that I was a part of,” said illustrator and animator, Lamaro Smith, a 31-year-old native of Grand Bahama.
“She reassured me and encouraged me in my creative pursuits and commended me for being independent in my professional development. I deeply enjoyed our conversation.”