Rania reading from---well, telling the story of---فرحانة وسر جمالها, which took 3rd place at this year's Etisalat awards. Really well-done. Attentive children. That is a mommy looking at her mobile thingie.
Then, she had puppets from the book. She showed us the trick of changing expressions: It's all in the eyebrows and the mouth.
The display for Amin's award-winning book. We've got our copy of this heart-warming story of inner beauty. You?
The kids got to make their own 'Farhanas' with plastecine and other household implements (matchsticks, wiring bobs). They could change the expression via mouth and eyebrows...and of course they all had their ideas about the hair.
Even a two-year-old could do it. More or less.
Last---Rania Amin works hard!---the children told their own schoolyard story and Rania assembled it into a book. Well, there were cookies in there somewhere, too.
What I liked about this event was how Rania encouraged them all to become storytellers, illustrators, and authors. She didn’t tell them “you must make Farhana’s hair curly, you must put the eyebrows like such, the story must be about X,” but let them use their…brains!
Not only did they listen, learn, and appreciate, but they created.
Also note: Al-Balsam now carries a range of grown-up books, and their taste in grown-up literature is similarly impeccable. As I came in, I saw a display that included books on the International Prize for Arabic Fiction longlist and up-and-coming Mohamed Salah Al-Azab’s latest novel, Sidi Barrani. And as I glanced up the stairs, I could see—in the English section–the distinctive jacket of Ahdaf Soueif’s Eye of the Sun.