Maithaa AlKhayyat’s ‘طريقتي الخاصة’, translated by Fatima Sharafeddine and Vivian French as My Own Special Way has been named to the very prestigious shortlist of the Marsh Award for Children’s Literature in Translation.
I believe this is the first time a children’s book translated from the Arabic has made the Marsh shortlist; certainly it would be the first Arabic winner.
I haven’t read the English edition, but “طريقتي الخاصة” is charmingly told and illustrated, a young girl’s journey to finding a hijab style that suits her. With a number of absurd attempts at tying the thing on in the way her different older sisters suggest. Humor, big-eyed illustrations, repetition, and a warm family environment make this enjoyable for boys and girls.
My then-8-year-old commented on the book last year: “What I like about this book is all the little details, like the details about how they put on hijab. Like one of the sisters, for instance, is always drinking something, in almost all the pictures, she has a drink with a straw.”
The award is granted every other year, and has gone three times to the great Anthea Bell. The judges this year are Wendy Cooling, Colin Niven, Sian Williams, and Gillian Lathy. They’re scheduled to announce the winner at an awards ceremony on January 23.