White Ravens: Egypt

5 books      

Egypt (English) - 1998 - 19
Marston, Elsa (text)
El Guindi, Abdel Aziz (illus.)
Free as the desert wind
Cairo: Hoopoe Books, 1996. [32] p.
ISBN 977-5325-66-8
Father/Son - Desert - Camel - Disobedience
With great reluctance his father allows twelve-year old Omar to join him on the long camel drive from Sudan to Egypt. Omar experiences the loneliness of the journey and the extremities of a sandstorm. Soon he befriends a young camel, who helps them find a desparately needed water well. Unable to sell the camel and save him from the slaughter house, Omar secretly sets the young camel free in the desert, but the loyal animal soon returns. Attractively illustrated with color-pencil drawings, this well-told story will enrich multicultural library collections. (8+) ☆

Egypt (Arabic) - 2003 - 241
Šarūnī, Ya‘qūb aš- (text)
Tūni, Hilmī at- (illus.)
Aǧmal al-hikāyāt aš-ša‘bīya
(The best traditional fairytales)
Al- Qāhira : Dār aš-Šurūq, 2001. 84 p.
ISBN 977-09-0696-4
This anthology features six traditional fairytales adapted for younger and older children. Of special interest for non-Arab readers are not only the imaginative, suspenseful stories but also the fact that one repeatedly comes across elements familiar from fairytales of other cultures – take, for example, the fairytale Hadaya Fayruz, in which a sorceress grants a childless couple their wish for a baby and in which the king’s son, changed into a dog by a bad spell is saved by the love of a young woman who accepts to marry him. The large-format book is illustrated by many colourful, decorative pictures, which present a highly successful blend of Arabian traditions and modern graphic art. (10+)

Egypt (Arabic) - 2005 - 244
Tāhir, Walīd (illus.)
Al- Aġbiyā’
(The idiots)
Al-Qāhira : Dar-aš-Šurūq, 2003. [24] p.
ISBN 977-09-0961-0
Envy – Greed – Argument – War
Two people, a fisherman and a farmer, live peacefully side by side. Yet suddenly, each of them craves for his neighbour’s possessions even though they both get by well enough with what they have. They start stealing, fight each other fiercely, and this eventually leads to war, destruction, and death. In the end, one thing is clear: The world could be much more peaceful if it wasn’t for the humans. The pictures, created by the well-known Egyptian illustrator Walīd Tāhir, clearly stand out among other children’s books from his country. With its energetic, expressive, wild pictures in strong suggestive colours, this parable without words shows in a simple yet powerful way how much suffering people can cause out of envy and greed. (5+) ☆

Egypt (Arabic) - 2006 - 243
Šākir, ‘Īhāb (text/illus.)
Hikayat al-Malak Bkjjjr
(King Bīr’s story)
al- Qāhira : Nahdat Misir, 2004. 24 p.
ISBN 977-14-2911-6
King Child – Arbitrariness – Responsibility
A ten-year-old prince is suddenly made king and has to rule his country. Unable to cope with his new role, the boy abuses his power by creating new orders and laws as he pleases. Thus, for example, he decrees that all houses be painted orange, that people be only allowed to wear clothes of a certain colour, and that donkeys be made to wear pointed hats. Only when a little girl utters the wish that the young king may grow up immediately and act accordingly and this wish comes true – does the situation of the king’s frightened subjects change for the better. This story, accompanied by colour illustrations in an Oriental style, discusses the wise and responsible way of using one’s power and the value of individual freedom and a person’s rights in an original and easily understandable way. (7+)

Egypt (Arabic) - 2006 - 244
Šārūnī, Ya‘qūb aš- (text)
Misrī, Hānī al- (illus.)
Ahlām Hasan
(Hassan’s dream)
al- Qāhira : Dār Ilyās al-Asrīya Lit-Tibā‘a wa-n’ Našr, 2004. [48] p.
(Mağmū‘at Šahrzād)
ISBN 977-304-096-8
Human being Metamorphosis – Curse – Love
In countless fairy tales all over the world, human beings are turned into animals. This well-known motif of metamorphosis is often part of a love story, as indeed it is in this narrative, which is inspired by an ancient tale from the Arabic culture. Searching for a device for turning copper into gold, a young man arrives at a remote village cursed by a magic spell. There, he falls in love with a woman with wings and feathers. After he has freed her from the curse, further complications arise, until eventually he decides in favour of his wife and love instead of gold or wealth. The atmospheric illustrations consist of a mixture of water colour and pencil drawings finished on computer. They are reminiscent of illustrations from ancient Arabian folk tale collections. (9+)