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Author, 7, returns to Island

Seven-year-old Malaikah Abdul-Jabbar has returned to Bermuda after becoming the youngest presenter at an international reading conference for more than 15,000 people.

The Victor Scott Primary School student was in Chicago for the 55th Annual International Reading Association convention to present her book "Stop the Shooting: The Way Bermuda Feels. Expressed Through the Emotions of a 7-Year Old".

Her grandmother, Ameenah Abdul Hadee, accompanied her on the trip and said Malaikah was far from nervous and could barely contain her excitement.

She said: "Malaikah was very excited about going to Chicago and staying in a hotel. She kept saying 'When are we going to get to hotel'?

"Sunday had been a very long day for Malaikah but she was ready and bursting with energy Monday morning. Her presentation was scheduled for Monday afternoon at 3 p.m. In the meantime she took lots pictures of interesting artwork, fountains and other interesting items in the hotel."

Malaikah, who had to stand on a chair to see over the podium, was invited to the conference by Juliette Steede-Harris who was presenting the topic 'Using Bibliotherapy to Establish the Relationship Between Social-Emotional Skill Development and Academic Achievement'. Dr. Andrea Lightbourn, secretary for the Bermuda Reading Association, introduced Malaikah.

Mrs. Steede-Harris said Malaikah's book was a prime example of bibliotherapy because it was a response from a child to the current unrest in Bermuda, thus providing therapy to the entire Island via a book.

Mrs. Harris said: "This seven-year-old has made a tremendous impact in having her voice out there."

Unfortunately the trip was difficult with a six-hour layover in Philadelphia, which meant they arrived at 1 a.m. Sunday in Chicago. Malaikah's presentation was on Monday at 3 p.m.

To fill the time Malaikah and her grandmother listened to the Queen of Jordan Rania Al Abdullah who spoke about tensions and stereotypes that exist between the Muslim world and America after 9/11.

]Mrs. Abdul Hadee said her granddaughMrs. Abdul Hadee said her granddaughter was surprised and happy to learn that the Queen was a Muslim liske her.

In her own speech, Malaikah told the audience she was from the "beautiful island of Bermuda" and finished with her slogan: "Stop the Shooting."

She added: "I love my school and I love Bermuda. Recently a classmate of mine's daddy was shot and killed. I was really bothered by that.

"I wrote this book to cheer up my friend. I wrote this book to teach bad guys a lesson. I wrote this book because I believe that Bermuda can still be one of the safest countries in the world.

"I wrote this book because I have a voice and I wanted Bermuda to hear it. This book has been published and all have been sold so I do think that Bermuda has heard me loud and clear! STOP THE SHOOTING!"

Her mother, Maaida Coleman, who was not able to attend the conference, said she was proud of her daughter and had also started a website called www.stoptheshooting.com to enhance the book.

She added: "She wasn't nervous. She did a fantastic job."