Hamad Bin Khalifa University (HBKU) Press’s newly released children’s book, The Light of Hope was named winner in the 2019 International Book Awards (IBA) in the category of Children’s Mind/Body/Spirit.
The book, originally published in Arabic by HBKU Press under the title Kandil Alma in late-2018, was written by celebrated children’s author Basma El Khatib.
“The translation of this book is important in emphasising cross-cultural communication in children’s literature and helps promote the book’s message to a larger audience,” said Rima Ismail, Outreach and Special Project manager at HBKU Press.“
We are also excited about the book’s recent win at the 2019 International Book Awards, which will ensure an increased readership internationally. The Light of Hope is a book that offers an incredibly important message of hope to children and is thus deserving of all the attention it has and will receive.”
The Light of Hope follows the story of Alma, a young girl on her way home in a dark forest.
Alma faces many obstacles on the way, symbolising life’s difficulties, but overcomes them through strength, perseverance and the help of friends.
The author emphasised the importance of the book’s message to all children, especially young girls.
“I wrote this book as a message to my daughters, and to young girls around the world,” El Khatib explained, “to let them know they will go through many difficulties in life, but that they can and must overcome them.”
“I wanted to bring back the idea of a journey in children’s literature. I wanted to show children the necessity and possibility of overcoming obstacles through a journey that both teaches and inspires.”
In a statement, HBKU Press said it “is committed to facilitating quality translations of meaningful works from Arabic into many other languages and vice-versa”.
The translations allow for books in Arabic by Arab authors to reach a wider international audience where they are further recognised for the unique perspective they provide on global issues and messages that are central to humanity.
International recognition, such as the 2019 IBA win of The Light of Hope, “exemplifies how HBKU Press’s translated works bridge gaps and provide bilateral understanding and unity through literature”, the statement notes.
El Khatib, who has also published two books in the My Smart Family’series and has two additional books in the works with HBKU Press, recognises the publishing house’s ability to bring to life an author’s vision from conceptualisation to the final production process.
“HBKU Press was very instrumental in helping this book come to life,” El Khatib explained.
“I contemplated producing the story’s concept in many different ways. Working closely with their team of professionals helped me materialise it into a beautifully illustrated children’s book.
“I was especially thrilled when HBKU Press decided to translate the book into English,” added El Khatib.
“This allowed for my book to reach more readers and a wider global audience. I am grateful for HBKU Press in helping elevate my voice and my project through the translation of my book.”
Bilal Bassal, the Lebanese-French artist behind the book’s concept art, was instrumental in depicting the powerful text through evocative illustrations.
“I wanted a special artistic direction for this project to give it a cinematic feel,” he said, “in order to kindle the illustration’s strong emotions and allow readers to live vicariously through the story and its main character, Alma.
“The Light of Hope was my first co-operation with HBKU Press,” he added, “and I’m delighted to help create meaningful books for children, in Arabic and English.
It is so important for any artist to be surrounded by people who trust him and believe in his artistic experience and advice, which was my experience with the HBKU Press team.”
In addition to the book’s 2019 IBA win, The Light of Hope received an Honourable Mention at the 2019 Purple Dragonfly Book Awards in the category of Spiritual/Religious as well.
The Light of Hope is “perfect for children aged 4-9 years” and can be found on Amazon Kindle and in bookstores across Qatar in both English and Arabic, the statement added.