Although the Etisalat Prize for Arabic Children’s Literature calls its young-reader category “YA,” it also specifies this year the prize is for a book targeted at readers “eight to twelve”:
This year’s winner is ” الخروج من الفقاعة” (Getting Out of the Bubble), written by Ibrahim Shalaby and published by Egypt’s Dar al-Balsam.
The book centers on Samir, a 12-year-old leukemia patient, following him from the moment he finds out about his illness — by overhearing a phone conversation — until he’s declared cancer-free.
According to a review on the EBBY Egypt website, “We learn with Samir to be closer to God, to thank him continuously, to be grateful for everything he has provided us with, to be positive, and to look at life from a different perspective; we learn to get out of our usual bubble. We sit with Samir throughout his chemotherapy, blood transfusions, and even witness him falling in love for the first time within the walls of the hospital. As Samir learns various life changing lessons so does the reader. This is a marvelous book that isn’t only suitable for children but could be a life changing read for an adult as well.”
The other Etisalat prizes went to Shafeek Mehdi and Taiba Abdullah for The Judge’s Mule, which won the Children’s Book of the Year and Best Production awards, to Ebtihaj al-Harthi for Me and My Granny, which won Best Text, and to Gulnar Hajo, who won the Best Illustrations award for her work on Nour Runs Away from the Story.