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2016 Hans Christian Andersen Award: 3 Nominees from MENA

The International Board on Books for Young People, otherwise known as IBBY, has announced the winners for the 2016 Hans Christian Andersen Award on April 4, 2016. This award honors international authors and illustrators from several different countries for their contributions to children’s literature. It’s actually the highest form of international recognition available in this particular field. This year 3 Middle Easterners were nominated for this award, and although they didn’t win this year’s award, we felt that we should highlight the work of these three extremely talented writers.

In no particular order, the first Middle Easterner is Affaf Tobbala from Egypt. Interestingly enough, Affaf began writing stories for her grandchildren at the age of 64! Her works are written in a style even unique to most Arabic writers. Her very first story, Al-Samaka Al-Faddia (The Silver Fish, 2005), won Egypt’s Award for Children’s Literature and was awarded mention in the “New Horizons” category of the Bologna Ragazzi Awards in 2006. Also this story has been translated into English.

2016 Hans Christian Andersen Award

Next we have Turkey’s Gülçin AlpögeHer engagement with pre-school children and their questions formed the basis for her best-known books. Her book Sipsip ile Tiptip (Dripsy and Dropsy, 1994) is about water, Isiklari Seven Böcek (The bug that loved lights, 1997) is about energy, and Dedemi Özlüyorum (I miss my grandpa, 1994) is about the death of a loved one.  She has been a member of IBBY since 1990 and was a member of the IBBY Executive Committee from 2010 to 2014.

2016 Hans Christian Andersen Award

Last, but certainly not least! We have Dr. Sonia Nimr, a current Professor at Palestine’s Birzeit University. While she was still a mere student, Sonia was arrested and sent to an Israeli prison, and she escaped the walls of the prison with her writings, especially books for her children. She first received recognition for Little Piece of Ground, written with Elizabeth Laird in 2003. The story of the occupied West Bank, as seen through the eyes of a 12-year old boy, was written in English and then translated into Arabic, many European languages and also Japanese. It was nominated for the CILIP Carnegie Medal in the UK and included in the IBBY Honour List 2004. Moreover,  Nimr’s  young adult novel, Rihlat Ajeeba Fi Al Bilad Al Ghareeba (Wondrous journeys in strange lands, 2013), which received the Al-Etisalat Award for Arabic Children’s Literature at the Sharjah International Book Fair, was included on the IBBY Honour List 2014.

2016 Hans Christian Andersen Award

Congratulations to the winners of this year’s  Hans Christian Andersen Award: Rotraut Susanne Berner of Germany for Illustration, and Cao Wenxuan of China for Writing.

Don’t forget to leave a smile 🙂 !

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Israa Elkhatib

I was born in Palestine but raised with the fireflies in Georgia. My teenage years were spent being the Muslim nerd who was known as the bookworm of the school. That followed me back to Palestine, to develop into being the girl with the big vocabulary. I spent most of my high-school days cursing Newton for not eating that apple. My English Literature Bachelor's degree was only obtained because I'm a nerd for literature and my minor in Translation pretty much pays the bills, thank you Birzeit University.Creative writing is my passion and reading is my escape from reality into a world where everything is the way you imagine it to be.

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