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5 Arab Authors, Storytellers, and Illustrators Are Candidates for This Year’s Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award

For 2021, 263 candidates are in the running for Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award, which is worth around $500,000, the largest prize for literature for young readers. As prize organizers note, “The list includes some of the world’s foremost creators of literature for children and young people, as well as reading promoters.”

The new laureate will be announced on the April 13, 2021.

Previous winners have included the Tamer Institute in Palestine, Argentinian author-illustrator Isol, the Australian author-illustrator Shaun Tan, and many others.

This year’s Arab candidates are:

Egyptian storyteller Randa El Sawi.

El Sawi (@elsawiranda) is an oral storyteller best-known for her YouTube channel, “Randa’s bedtime stories قصص أطفال راندا”. The stories on her channel are composed in a straightforward Egyptian Arabic and targeted at children ages four to 10. El Sawi writes the stories and records them as audio-only “to encourage kids to listen rather than watch.”

Jordanian author Taghreed Najjar.

Taghreed Najjar is an always-innovating author and publisher of Arabic children’s literature. A graduate of the American University of Beirut, Najjar started her career as a teacher, before shifting to writing and publishing. Her popular YA novels have won several awards (including two shortlistings for the Etisalat Prize and won win), and she has also pioneered chapter books for the transition from picture books to novels. Her books have been on the White Ravens’ list twice, and she has several books translated to English: The Ghoul (tr. Michelle and Tameem Hartman), Watermelon Madness (also tr. Michelle and Tameem), My Brother and Me (tr. Michelle and Tameem), and The Little Green Drum (adapted by Lucy Coats).

Lebanese author Fatima Sharafeddine.

Over the last 15 years, Fatima Sharafeddine has written and translated more than 130 books working with a number of publishers (Kalimat, Al-Saqi, Asala, Turning Point, Yuki Press, Al-Shourouk, and Mijade). Her works have earned her many awards, among then: Etisalat Award for the best YA book of the year for her excellent novel Cappuccino, and the Bologna Ragazzi New Horizons Award for her book Lisanak Hisanak. Her books have been translated to various languages, among them: French, Italian, English, Spanish, Catalan, Dutch, Danish, German, Russian, Chinese, Korean, Turkish, Norwegian, and Swedish. Some of her English titles are the YA novel Faten, translated to English by the author as The Servant; the Middle Grade novel Ghady & Rawan, co-written with Samar Mahfouz Barraj and translated by Sawad Hussain and M Lynx Qualey; and picture books about Ibn Battuta and Ibn Sina.

Palestinian author and storyteller Sonia Nimr

Sonia Nimr is a star Palestinian author and storyteller who weaves together contemporary stories with folklore for readers of all ages. She won the prestigious 2014 Etisalat Award, for Wondrous Journeys in Strange Lands, and was also shortlisted for the prize for Thunderbird, the first title in a fantasy trilogy. She is also the author of two books in English: Ghaddar the Ghoul and Other Palestinian Stories and A Little Piece of Ground (co-written with Elizabeth Laird). Her Wondrous Journeys in Strange Lands is forthcoming next month from Interlink Books.

Sudanese illustrator Salah Elmur

Sarah Elmur is a contemporary Sudanese painter, graphic designer and filmmaker, living and working in Khartoum. Elmur also has illustrated a number of children’s books, published in Arabic, French, Italian, and Spanish. His titles include: Chacodile (Grandir, 2002), Jameil et Jamila: Conte Baggara du Soudan text by Patricia Musa (Grandir, 2003), Diakhere, la Cadette: Contes de Mauritanie, text by Mamadou Sall (Lirabelle, 2006), Sous Le Soleil, text by Badr Eddine Arodaky (Syros, 2007), Une Famille d’Artiste (Grandir, 2007), Le Soudan with Patricia Musa (Grandir, 2010), and A Qui est cet Oeuf? with Camille Pilet (Grandir, 2013).

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Four Arabic Books for Young Readers Named As 2020 ‘White Ravens’ Selections

From the White Ravens 2020 booklet.

The International Youth Library today published its 2020 White Ravens list: an annual selection of recommended children’s and youth literature from around the world.

Each year, a multilingual team at the International Youth Library in Munich, Germany, selects recently published books that they consider especially noteworthy: in art, theme, literary style, or design. This year’s 114-page White Ravens catalogue contains a selection of 200 notable children’s and young adult books from 56 countries published in 36 languages.

Four of the selected titles were written in Arabic: three are picture books and one is a coming-of-age YA novel recommended for readers 14+.

The four books are:

Hikaya tarwiha al-khyut (A Story Told by Threads), by Nabiha Mheidly, ill. Hassan Zahreddine. A picture book published by Dar al-Hadaek in 2018. From the booklet:

Nabiha Mheidly’s original, poetic story about threads and the art of telling a story by interweav- ing narratives is a masterpiece both in terms of its form as well as its language. 

Hala (Aura), by Moemen Helmy, ill. Matze Döbele. A picture book published by Yanbow al-Kitab in 2019. From the booklet:

The perceptive story, written in beautiful language, is accompanied by restrained black-and-white pictures in which only the colour- ful halos of individual people shine forth intensely.

Sirr A’sad (Asad’s Secret), by Najla’ Atallah. A Young Adult novel published by Tamer Institute in 2018. From the booklet:

Author Najla Atallah (b. 1987), who hails from Gaza, sensitively and genuinely captures the young man’s life as well as the hard reality of the largest Palestinian city. 

Al-himar w al-bulbul (The Donkey and the Nightingale), by Jekar Khourchid, ill. Ghazaleh Bigdelou. A picture book published by Dar Al-Aalam Al-Arabi in 2019. From the booklet:

Jekar Khourchid tells the story in a lively, humorous and fast-paced way. The text lends itself well to being read aloud and is accompanied by Ghazaleh Bigdelou’s double-page colour illustra- tions, which caricature the animals in comical ways. 

This year’s Arabic specialist was Dr. Azad Hamoto. The list is always published in the lead-up to Frankfurt Book Fair, set to open on October 14. While the catalog is usually available as a print edition, since Frankfurt Book Fair will take place mostly online this year, the IJB has produced a digital-only version which can be downloaded as as a PDF.

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6 Winners of the 2019 Etisalat Award for Arabic Children’s Literature

Winners of the Etisalat Award for Arabic Children’s Literaturewere announced today in six categories — best book, best text, best illustrations, best production, best wordless picture book, and best young adult — on the opening day of the Sharjah International Book Fair:

Well-known names dominated the list, with the “Best Book of the Year” prize going to popular Palestinian duo Anas Abu Rahma and Lubna Taha, who had previously worked together on the acclaimed Unnecessary Advice for the Young Reader. The pair took the 2019 “Best Book of the Year” prize with A Story about “س” and “ل,” published by The National Publishing House of Jordan.

Winner in the “Best Illustrations” category went to I Fly by Dr. Amani Saad Alnajem, ill. Khalid Zaini (Alif Ba Ta Publishing).

Winner in the new category of “Best Wordless Picture Book” went to illustrator Masoumeh Haji, with story-conception by Ali Qasem, for The Secret of the Well, (Dar Buraq). This was a new category, launched this year, and there had been no shortlist.

The “Best Text” prize Damascus: The Story of a City, written & illustrated by Alaa Murtada, published by Dar Al-Balsam.

The “Best Production” award went to Abu Karkouba, by Nabiha Muhaidli and ill. Walid Taher (Dar al-Hadaek).

And winner of the Young Adult category went to Taghreed Najjar, who was on the Etisalat’s YA shortlist for the fourth time with her fourth YA novel, Whose Doll Is This?, a compelling read 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.

Prize organizers reported that this year they had received 175 submissions from around the world. The 1.2 million AED in prize money (approximately USD $325,000) is divided between authors, illustrators, and publishers.

Also:

2019 Shortlists for Etisalat Award for Arabic Children’s Literature