Winners of the Etisalat Award for Arabic Children’s Literature were 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.