OCTOBER 16, 2021 — The Etisalat Award for Arabic Children’s Literature today announced the shortlists for books in four categories: Early Reader, Picture Book, Chapter Book, and YA Novel. It was a particular triumph for the Egyptian publishing house Alia Publishing and Distribution, which had a total of four books on the shortlists.
There was no shortlist announced for the new Comics category, because of a shortage of submissions. However, a winner will be announced during the awards ceremony in Sharjah, on the opening day of the Sharjah International Book Fair, when the winners of all five categories will be announced.
The five books shortlisted in the “Early Reader” category are: I Wish You, written by Asmaa Emara, illustrated by Nuhayia, published by Dar El Shorouk; ABZ, written by Samar Mahfouz Barraj, illustrated by Sinan Hallak, published by Dar Al Saqi; It’s Simple, by Manar Hazzaa, illustrated by Basma Hosam, and published by Alia Publishing and Distribution; Three Clever Foxes, written by Amal Naser Kajak, illustrated by Nadine Issa, and published by Hekayat Qamar; and My Hands, written by Rahima Balfar, illustrated by Basant Dawoud, and also published by Alia Publishing and Distribution.
The five books shortlisted in the “Picture Book” category are: Akhhhhh, written by Manar Hazza, illustrated by ArabLit Quarterly contributor Sohila Khaled, and published by Alia Publishing and Distribution; The Superhero, written by Dr. Naseeba Alozaibi, illustrated by Hassan Manasrah, and published by Dar Ashjar; My Pants Are Too Short!, written by Maria Dadoush, illustrated by Celeste Aires, and published by Al Salwa Books; Holes in my Sister’s Brain!, written by Abeer Ali, illustrated by Gulnar Hajo, and published by Hachette Antoine; and What if You Found an Angry Dragon in your House?, written by Amal Nasser, illustrated by Reem Al-Askari, and published by Hekaiat Qamar.
The three books shortlisted in the “Chapter Book” category are: No Way, Dinosaurs are Not Extinct, written by Weeam Ahmed, illustrated by Hayam Safwat, and published by Alia Publishing and Distribution; My New Nightmare, written and illustrated by Lubna Taha, published by Dinason; The Orange Ball, written by Tamara Qush’ha, illustrated by Yeganeh Yaghoobezhad, and published by Al Yasmine Publishing and Distribution.
The three books shortlisted in the YA category are: Dates and Masala, written by Mohammed AlNabulsi, illustrated by Yasser Jaeeseh, published by Wow For Publishing; It’s Like you Grew a Flower in my Bangs, written by Anas Abu Rahma, illustrated by Ibrahim Jawabreh, and published by Dinason; and Small Escape, written by Afaf Tobbala, illustrated by Mariam Hani, and published by Nahdet Misr.
Dates and Masala follows a young Emirati with a passion for cooking who finds an Indian cookbook belonging to an Indian woman from Kerala. He travels there to return her, and in the process discovers Indian culture and cuisine. According to Al Bayan, the book — “a mix of travel literature, food writing, and YA” — will be translated into Malayalam. English rights are still available.
Afaf Tobbala won the Etisalat Award’s “Best Children’s Book of the Year” prize in 2013 for her Rod of Racemes. Her A Small Escape follows a young runaway.
Palestinian poet and author Anas Abu Rahma has written many books for children.
The prize is is set to give out a total of 1.2 million UAED (around 280,000 Euro) for this year’s winners, with 180,000 dirhams allocated to each category, to be shared equally by the author, illustrator, and publisher, except in the YA category, which is shared only by the author and publisher.
The winner is set to be announced November 3, 2021, as this year’s Sharjah International Book Fair opens.
Gallery of shortlisted titles: