The 6 Winners of the 2020 Etisalat Award for Arabic Children’s Literature

The winners of the six categories of the Etisalat Award for Arabic Children’s Literature 2020 have been announced…

By M. Lynx Qualey and Ruth Ahmedzai Kemp

The annual Etisalat Award for Arabic Children’s Literature is one of the most important children’s literature prizes in the Arab world, with prizes awarded in six categories: Children’s Book of the Year, Best Illustrations, Best Text, Best Silent Book, and Best Young Adult Book.

Children’s Book of the Year

Shahrazizi’s Nights

Shahrazizi’s Nights: A Tale Within a Tale Within a Tale by Hadil Ghoneim and illustrator Sahar Abdallah, published by Dar al-Balsam in Egypt.

Ghoneim has previously been shortlisted for the Etisalat Prize, in the YA category, while Abdallah won the 2018 Best Illustrations category with her Think of Others – a picture book edition of a poem by Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish.

Best Illustrations

The Monster and Me

The Monster and Me, illustrated by Baraa al-Awour and written by Aisha Abdullah al-Harithi, published by Dar Ashjar, UAE

The monster of grief comes after those we love are gone, occupying the void they leave behind, stealing the things that make us happy. How can we defeat that monster? A reflection on bereavement

Best Text

Words by Jikar Khorshid, illustrated by Maha Daher, published by Dar Najma, Syria

You can see more of Maha Daher’s stunning artwork on her instagram. She has also illustrated several books for Asala Publishers in Lebanon. Jikar Khorshid won the first place at the Sharjah Prize for Arab Creativity 2006 for his story Ibn Awa Wa Allaith (The Jackal and the Lion); he is also author of two picture books published by Kalimat.

Best Silent Book

The Apple

The Apple, by Asma Amara, illustrated by Atifa Abdullah, published by Dar al-Buragh, Iraq

A boy shares his apple with another boy, who shares his half with a little girl, who shares her half with a bird. The seeds that are dropped behind find their way into the soil and a large apple tree grows, producing many apples to be shared by many children. A lovely wordless picture book about sharing and the cycles of nature.

Best Production

I’ll be fine

I’ll Be Fine (سأكون على ما يرام), co-authored by Essam Asmir and Lama Azmar, illustrated by Hanane al-Kai, published by Jabal Amman in Jordan.

After difficult events in Selim’s family, they move to a new town, and Selim finds himself a stranger in a new school and new neighborhood. None of this makes it easier to deal with what was already a challenging time. But Selim learns something important thing about himself, gets to know some kind people, and finds himself faced with an exciting adventure, all of which gives him hope, and a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel.

Best Young Adult Book

The Poppy / The Anemone (شقائق النعمان ), by Haya Saleh, published by Al Yasmine in Jordan. According to the publisher, the novel follows two brothers who find themselves in unjust circumstances, who set out on an adventure to search for one another.

This year is the 12th edition of the Etisalat Award for Arabic Children’s Literature, which was launched in 2009 on the initiative of Her Highness Sheikha Bodour bint Sultan Al-Qasimi, President of the United Arab Emirates Board on Books for Young People (UAEBBY) and Founder / CEO of Kalimat publishing house.

The award administrators received entries from Egypt, Algeria, the USA, the UK and Morocco, in addition to submissions from Kuwait, Syria, Iraq, Palestine, Tunisia and Sudan. Submissions also came in for the first time from Finland, Georgia, Canada, Congo, Iran and Spain.

Egypt topped the list of the submitted entries with 59 books, followed by the UAE which ranked second with 43, while Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Lebanon took third place with 22 entries each.

This year’s long list included 171 submissions in six categories with 119 entries in the Children’s Book category, 40 in the Young Adult Book of the Year category, and 12 in the Silent Book category.

More information

To find out more about children’s and YA books in Arabic, subscribe to our sister blog, ArabKidLitNow! Please email Marcia or Ruth at for more information on any of the writers and books mentioned here. As we reported here, there are still a lamentably low number of children’s books available in translation from Arabic; get in touch if you’d like our help to change that!

Watch the full Etisalat Awards announcement here:

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