A 30-second Review of Adly Rizkallah’s النقطة السوداء

Who: For readers aged 4-8, although I am personally squeamish about discussing النار with children.

What: Adly Rizkallah’s النقطة السوداء

Where: Quality bookstores across Cairo.

Why you should buy it: For the pictures.


Last month, Egyptian painter, writer, and children’s book illustrator Adli Rizkallah passed away. Nonetheless, one of his recent books, عصفور بلاد الشمال, made it onto the Anna Lindh list of 101 notable Arabic children’s books for 2010, and many of his books and illustrations populate local bookstores.

In fact, I had asked my husband—who works around the corner from a bookstore—to pick up Walid Taher’s النقطة السوداء, shortlisted for the 2010 Etisalat Prize for Arabic Children’s Literature. He couldn’t find it, and, rather than come home empty-handed, he brought me Adly Rikzallah’s النقطة السوداء.

Note: My husband made up for it last night by coming home with five copies of Walid Taher’s النقطة السوداء. I do apologize to other Kotob Khan shoppers, but honestly, only one is for us. Anyhow! I haven’t read it yet, but my husband read it to the boys at bedtime last night, and he says “it’s really awesome” and my seven-year-old adds “I loved it.” Ooh, I can’t wait!

But back to our previously scheduled review. While the boys and I found the paintings of Adly Rizkallah’s book charming (I even saw the older one stroking the picture of the owl), I was a little startled by the text of the first page, which begins:

بكت ألفتأه تمر بدموع غزيرة. كانت تبكي و تقول : ساذهب إلا النار، ساذهب إلا النار

This seemed a bit strong for me, but of course we read on:

قالت: لقد وجدت في كتابي نقطة سوداء ، و قالت المعلمة: من سيجد في كتابه نقطة سوداء فسيزهب إلا النار

I hope my sons’ teachers never say anything of the sort, even if one of them (God forbid) scribbles madly in a textbook. But, in any case, the artist-father has a lovely rebuttal. He gets out a book and, on each page, paints a beautiful picture (of an orange tree, a palm, birds, fish, and more).

And with each drawing, he tells her:

الله جميل يحب الجمال

The girl grows up, and whenever she has troubles, she always has this book of her father’s to remind her:

الله جميل يحب الجمال

So I still don’t really like this business of النار for children, even though my older son took it in a calm way, and the younger didn’t repeat it, instead focusing on الله جميل يحب الجمال. In any case, the beautiful paintings, and the repetition of God is beautiful and loves beauty do have their appeal.

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3 Responses to A 30-second Review of Adly Rizkallah’s النقطة السوداء

  1. Nadine Helmy says:

    Dear sir,
    I am a very big fan of read kutub for kids and I see it as a light for us(parents)
    To follow…I was just wondering if you are having a copy of this site
    Edited in Arabic …it will be easier for me to follow as reading about libraries and books reviews talking about Arabic books in Arabic is much easier than in English
    Thanks a lot and sorry for bothering you
    Nadine Helmy
    A greatful and concerned parent

    • mlynxqualey says:


      ISA I will find someone who is comfortable writing in proper Arabic to take over this site, or at least write half of the materials. I am looking!

      I know, it’s a bad contradiction to have the site in English; I wish I could write it all in strong, beautiful Arabic.

  2. Nadine Helmy says:

    Thanks a lot for your reply…I am really greatful for your excellent work..I totally admire the way you handle your illustrations…God bless you:)
    Keep the best work up…
    Nadine Helmy

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