This Charming Middle-Grade Graphic Novel Needs a Publisher

Tamara and Our World

You have to forgive Ali Abdel Mohsen, at Al Masry al Youm, for gushing about Essam Abdallah’s new middle-grade graphic novel Ehna wa Kowkab or Our Planet and Us, published in a small run in English and in Arabic.

After all, while Cairo has seen a surge in children’s picture books in the last decade, middle-grade and YA fiction have been largely absent from the literary landscape. And graphic novels? Well, there was Magdy Shafee’s Metro, which was yanked from shelves for offending public morals.

But young readers—except those lucky enough to attend Cairo’s World Environment Day at Al Azhar Park last weekend—will have to wait for their copies of Ehna wa Kowkab.  The Wadi Environmental Science Center, which sponsored the initial print run, is still in search of a publisher to take on the project.

So, ye publishing houses! Tamara, the hero of Ehna wa Kowkab, examines Cairo’s real, gritty problems—trash fires, breathing problems, overburdened garbage workers, ubiquitous plastic bags—but through a engaging, sarcastic narrator who is charming both to middle-grade and YA readers, and even this adult.

The book has a message, of course (we can clean up our city!), but it is not overbearing, and my son wanted to sit down on a bench in the noon-day heat and read it cover to cover.


  1. Hey lady,

    What do you have against Ali Abdel Mohsen? He doesn’t gush. I know him personally. Why does he need our forgiveness? HE DOESN’T WANT IT!

    Ali Abdel Mohsen

  2. Regarding the scarcity of Egyptian YA fiction, there’s my novel, BEWARE THE STRANGER, an English-Language thriller written for Egyptian Young Adults.

  3. Ali,

    Are these not are all commonplace figures of ironic speech?

    No one over here thinks Ali Abdel Mohsen really “gushes” (in a teenage-girl manner) or “needs forgiveness.” It is simply a more interesting way of saying “Ali Abdel Mohsen enjoyed /Ehna wa Kowkab/, and he wrote about it in /Al Masry Al Youm/.”

    -Hey Lady.


    Yes, I know of /Beware the Stranger/, and I think I’ve written about it. Maybe? And I look forward to picking it up at some point.

    But I think the paucity is of Arabic-language YA lit. Perhaps you have plans to translate /Beware the Stranger/?


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