Awards · Illustrators · Middle Grade · Picture Books · Young Adult

The 6 Winners of the 2020 Etisalat Award for Arabic Children’s Literature

Judges for this year’s Etisalat Award for Arabic Children’s Literature went from 221 submissions from 22 countries to a 13-book longlist, to the six winners announced at an online ceremony streamed online today:

The top category, “Children’s Book of the Year,” went to Egyptian author Hadil Ghoneim and illustrator Sahar Abdallah for Shahrazizi’s Nights: A Tale Within a Tale Within a Tale, published by Dar al-Balsam in Egypt. Ghoneim has previously been shortlisted for the Etisalat Prize, in the YA category, while Abdallah won the 2018 “Best Illustrations” category with her Think of Others.

This year’s “Best Illustrations” category went to The Monster and Me, illustrated by Baraa Al Awour and written by Aisha Abdullah Al Harithi, while “Best Text” went to Words by Syria’s Jikar Khorshid. The book was illustrated by Maha Daher.

“Best Silent Book” went to The Apple, by Asma Amara, illustrated by Atifa Abdullah, while “Best Production” went to I’ll Be Okay, co-authored by Essam Asmir and Lama Azmar, illustrated by Hanane al-Kai, and published by Jabal Amman in Jordan.

And although there was no shortlist announced for this year’s Young Adult category, judges did announce a winner: شقائق النعمان (The Poppy Anemone), by Haya Saleh, published by Al Yasmine for Publishing and Distribution in Jordan.

According to the publisher, the novel follows two brothers who find themselves in unjust circumstances, who set out on an adventure to search for one another.

Watch the full announcement:


Ibtisam Barakat Wins SZBA’s Children’s Literature Prize for ‘The Lilac Girl’

Organizers of the Sheikh Zayed Book Award (SZBA) today announced the winners — in seven categories — of their 14th annual prize:

This year’s Children’s Literature prize went to Palestinian-American author Ibtisam Barakat for her picture book الفتاة الليلكية (The Lilac Girl, 2019) published by Palestine’s Tamer Institute for Community Education. The book is part of a series focused around Palestinian artists, this one inspired by the painter Tamam al-Akhal. “Instead of telling a story with words, she tells her pain to the watercolors and her happiness to the oil pastels.”

Barakat publishes in both Arabic and English; several of her previous books have met with awards and acclaim. Her التاء المربوطة تطير (The Ta’ That Flies) won an Anna Lindh Foundation prize in 2011, while her English-language awards include an  International Reading Association’s Best Non Fiction for YA in 2008, the Middle East Council Best Literature Book Award in 2007, and an Arab American Book Award in the Children/ Young Adult Category in 2008. In addition to several books in Arabic, Barakat has two works in English: Tasting the Skya memoir, and Balcony on the Moona YA memoir.

According to organizers, a record-breaking total of 1900 entries were submitted this year, including 205 in children’s literature.

In lieu of a ceremony — set to be held during the now-cancelled Abu Dhabi International Book Fair — the seven winners will be presented via a livestream video on April 16, through the SZBA website.

Each winner is set to receive 750,000 UAE dirhams (approximately $204,000 USD).


On the Palestinian artist Tamam al-Akhal

On Ibtisam Barakat


4 Arabic-language Writers Nominated for 2020 Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award!

Organizers today announced the 237 candidates from 68 countries that are nominated to the 2020 Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award. Candidates were presented by the jury at the Frankfurt Book Fair, and the selected candidates represent all continents with authors, illustrators, reading promoters, and storytellers.

More than a hundred nominating bodies worldwide have proposed candidates for the 2020 award.

There are four candidates who write in Arabic, and also Arab-Australian author Randa Abdel-Fattah, representing Australia.

From Egypt, author and oral storyteller Yacoub El-Sharouni is on the list; from Jordan, author-publisher Taghreed al-Najjar, from Lebanon-Belgium, author-translator Fatima Sharafeddine; and, from Palestine, author-academic Sonia Nimr.

The 2020 ALMA laureate will be announced on March 31, 2020.


2019 Shortlists for Etisalat Award for Arabic Children’s Literature

Prize announcements continued Wednesday as the Etisalat Award for Arabic Children’s Literature announced shortlists in five categories:

The five shortlists — for best text, best illustrations, best production, best book, and young adult — were announced on the opening day of the Frankfurt International Book Fair.

There were only three books shortlisted for this year’s YA category: Taghreed Najjar’s Whose Doll Is This, a compelling novel set between Chicago, Jaffa, and Beirut that follows the fate of a doll left behind when Arwa’s grandma fled her Jaffa home in 1948; Fatima Sharafeddine’s Plump Mila, about a girl’s struggles with anorexia; and Me and the Crew by Mais Dagher, ill. the acclaimed Lena Merhej, about a boy named Ibrahim who’s bullied after he discovers a secret.

The four-book shortlist in the “Best Book of the Year” category includes: Abu Karkouba, by Nabiha Muhaidli and ill. Walid Taher (Dar al-Hadaek); With All the Love in My Heart, by Anas Abu Rahma and ill. Lubna Taha (Palestine Writing Workshop); Damascus: The Story of a City, by Alaa Murtada (Dar al-Balsam); and A Story about “س” and “ل,” also by Anas Abu Rahma, ill. Lubna Taha (The National Publishing House of Jordan).

The four-book shortlist in the “Best Text” category includes: Abu Karkouba, written by Nabiha Muhaidli and ill. Walid Taher (Dar al-Hadaek); Damascus: The Story of a City, by Alaa Murtada (Dar al-Balsam); Everything’s Going to Be Okay, by Mohamed El-Atabi, ill. Ali Shamseddine (Dar al-Hadaek); For One Simple Reason!, by Samar Taher ill. Sasha Haddad (Dar Asala).

The four-book shortlist in the “Best Illustrations” category includes: I Fly by Dr. Amani Saad Alnajem, ill. Khalid Zaini (Alif Ba Ta Publishing); Bows of Friendship, by Fatima Hamad Al Mazroui, ill. Walid Taher and Mohammed Ibrahim (Hudhud Publishing and Distribution); Doll House, by Jakeer Khorshid, ill. Faris Gara Beat (Dar Rabie); and Day of Fairy Tales, by Khawla Ali Mohammed, ill. Ghazala Picadillo (Dar al-Buraq Children’s Culture).

In the category of “Best Production,” the four-book shortlist includes: Abu Karkouba, by Nabiha Muhaidli and ill. Walid Taher (Dar al-Hadaek); Island of the Blessed Seas, by Walid Taher (Yanbow Al Kitab); Sanjoob and the Spilt Milk, by Haifa Mohareb Sawarka, Ill. Javiera MacLean, (Salwa Books); and Damascus: The Story of a City, by Alaa Murtada (Dar al-Balsam).

A shortlist was not announced for the “Best Silent Book” category.

Prize organizers reported that this year they had received 175 submissions from around the world, and that winners in all categories — including the new “Best Silent Book” category — would be announced at the opening ceremony of the Sharjah International Book Fair 2019, on October 30, 2019.

The 1.2 million AED in prize money (approximately USD $325,000) is divided between authors, illustrators, and publishers.


Sheikh Zayed Book Award Announces 2018 Longlists for Children’s Literature, Includes Taghreed Najjar’s ‘One Day The Sun Will Shine’

Yesterday, the Sheikh Zayed Book Award (SZBA) announced its 10-book longlist in the “Children’s Literature” category. These 10 were selected from among 168 submissions that came “mostly from the UAE, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, Syria, and Kuwait.”

The titles range from picture books, such as Nadia al-Najjar’s Voices of the World, to YA crossover such as Taghreed Najjar’s Etisalat Prize-shortlisted One Day the Sun Will Shine. There are a number of titles by celebrated children’s writers, including Rania Zbib Daher and Yara Bamieh. Eligible titles were published in 2017 and 2018.

The SZBA “Children’s Literature” longlist:

‘Al Nooru Yantazerok’ (The Light Awaits You) by novelist Dr. Shamma Bint Mohammed Bin Khaled Al Nahyan

‘Ahlam An Akoun Khalat Asmant’ (I Dream of Being a Concrete Mixer) by author Hussain Almutawaa

‘Ana Lastu Anta’ (I Am Not You) by author Jekar Khourchid

‘Sa tashruqu Al Shams Walaw Ba’ad Heen’ (One Day the Sun Will Shine) by Taghreed Najjar

‘Serr Ala Daftar Sari’ (A Secret in Sari’s Notebook) by Rania Zbib Daher

‘Aswat Al’alam’ (Voices of the World), by Nadia Al Najjar

‘Ayn Minqari?’ (Where is My Beak?) by Yara Bamieh

‘Hoor Tashrab Al Shai Ma’ Al Qamar’ (Hoor Drinks Tea with the Moon) by Jamal Bu Tayeb,

‘Ajnehat Ta’eraty’ (The Wings of My Kite) by novelist Raja’ Mallah

‘Metafy Al Qormozi’ (My Crimson Coat) by Hessa Al Mazrouei