By Jehan Helou
The Palestinian Section of the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY) has announced the Palestinian entries on the 2022 Honour List that features a selection of outstanding recently published books and constitutes one of the most prestigious international children’s book awards. Every two years, the IBBY selects exceptional writers, illustrators, and translators from IBBY national sections, also honoring the publishers of these books with certificates. Honour List diplomas are presented at IBBY congresses, and the books are circulated at exhibitions and conferences around the world.
The Palestinian Section of IBBY has participated in all nominations since 2002, the year when it officially joined the international board. This year’s awards go to Farashat al-Nasra (The Butterfly of Nazareth), Al-Hirrah Reeshah (The Cat Reeshah), and Ana wa-Al Quds (Jerusalem and I).
In Farashat al-Nasra, by Nabila Espanioly, published by Al-Tufula Center in Nazareth, the writer May Ziadeh narrates memories of her childhood, describing details of her life and dreams while growing up in Nazareth. “I like to dream while asleep or awake. I like to fly like birds and run like gazelles.” The recipient of several international and local awards, Nabila Espanioly is a writer, psychotherapist, social worker, activist, and the founding director of Nazareth’s Al-Tufula Center. She has authored several children’s books and articles on early childhood and on the political and social situation of Palestinian women.
The illustrator Amal Karzai was honored for her illustration of Al-Hirrah Reeshah, by Haifa Muhareb Sawarkeh, published by Tamer Institute. In this story, the people living on al-Lawz (Almond) Street have questions about a cat: No one knows anything about it or from where it came, except that it is light in weight, so they called it Reeshah (Feather). One day, a group of street performers arrives to put on a show. Reeshah surprises them when it goes on stage and starts turning around and around like a crystal ball. The book’s illustrations are painted with pastel, Conte Crayon, graphite, and chalk on toned charcoal paper. Amal lives in New York. Her work covers a spectrum of books, magazines, posters, and cover art and is influenced by a lifelong interest in multiculturalism. A Gold Medal Winner of the Key Colours Illustrators Competition, Amal’s art has been featured in museums and includes pieces now held in private collections.
Translator Hala Shrouf was honored for her translation of Ana wa-Al Quds, published by the Institute of Palestine Studies in cooperation with Tamer Institute. In this autobiography, the writer and teacher Halah Sakakini describes her childhood in Jerusalem from 1924 until the Nakba in 1948, relating both personal and general events that cover the social, cultural, and political situation. Hala Shrouf is a brilliant poet, translator, and editor who currently works at the Palestinian Museum. Two books of her poetry have been published.
The International Board on Books for Young People, established in 1953, is the most prominent and proficient international nonprofit organization dedicated to children’s books. It has 80 national sections worldwide that are committed to bringing together books and children. For more information on the Palestinian section, please visit https://www.ibbypalestine.org.uk/ or its Facebook page, IBBY Pal.