The Sheikh Zayed Book Award ‘Children’s Literature Award’ is awarded annually to the author of the most distinguished contribution to Arab literature for Children. We look back at the winners who added value to the Arabic Library with their winning books.
The first ever Award in 2007 went to Dr. Mohammed Ali Ahmed from Egypt, writer of a collection of six series “Rehla ‘ala al Waraq” (A Journey On Paper) published by Dar Al Arabiya Lil Kitab, Cairo, 2006. The series describe diverse scientific topics including the world of insects, and characteristics of planets, with a combination of real imagery and age-specific language.
In 2008, the Kuwaiti author Huda Al Shawa Qadoumi, won the Award for her book “Rehlat al Toyoor li Jabal qaf” (The Birds’ Journey to Qaf Mount) published by Dar Al Saqi, Beirut 2008. The story is based on a Sufi poem by the twelfth-century Persian poet Farid ud din Attar. The accompanying illustrations, by Vanessa Hodgkinson, are originally painted on ceramic tiles echoing a medium that was typically used in medieval Persia and the Middle East. The high quality production of ‘The bird’s Journey to Qaf Mountain’ book coupled with its intriguing story plot gained it the recognition it deserved by the Sheikh Zayed Book Award judges.
In 2010,a talented Emirati writer; Qais Sedki won the Award for his “Sewar Al Dahab” (Gold Ring) published by UAE based Page flip, 2008. The book is the first Arabic book illustrated using the Japanese Manga style. The book tells the story of Sultan, a 15-year-old Emirati, and his falcon Majed as they compete in a fictional sport called gold ring, based on traditional falconry.
In 2011, the Egyptian author, Afaf Tobbala won first place in the children’s literature category for her book “Al Bayt Wal Nakhlah” (The House and the Palm Tree) published by Nahdet Misr, Cairo, 2011. The book is a sophisticated diversion from ‘mainstream’ children’s literature as it explores the inner worlds of children in a masterful story-telling style and allows them to reflect on their surroundings.
In 2012, Abdo Wazen from Lebanon, won for his book ‘ Al Fata allathi Ra’a Lawn al- Hawa” (The boy Who Saw the Color of Air) published by Arab Scientific Publishers, 2011. The novel describes in a beautiful narrative language the life of children with special needs, often neglected in youngsters literature. the story revolves around Basem, a 13 year old boy, who is blind, and learns how to read and open up to the world driven by his willpower.
The Sheikh Zayed Book Award is accepting nominations for its Eighth Edition (2013-2014) until October 15th 2013. Categories of the award include Contribution to the Development of Nations, Children’s Literature [including adolescents books], Young Author, Translation, Literature, Literary and Art Criticism, Arab Culture in non-Arabic Language (Russian, Italian and English), Publishing and Technology, Cultural Personality of the Year (Open to individuals and organizations).