EBBY- Ardena Competition Results

Last Saturday, the Egyptian Board of Books for Young People (EBBY) and the Shoura Assembly of Agriculture held an awards ceremony at the Zamalek Library. Well attended by local and regional publishers, authors, and illustrators, the day began with an award ceremony for the four winners of the Ardena or “Our Land” competition. Organized by EBBY and Shoura, this competition encouraged writers to submit stories about Egypt’s land or agriculture for children. The awards were given by Dr. Nadia Al Khouly and a Shoura representative to first and second place winners of two age groups, elementary readers and young adult. Congratulations!

Afterwards, Dr. Yasmine Motawy spoke on her experiences judging for the Hans Christian Anderson Award. She explained the requirements for an author or illustrator to submit their work and how best to organize their portfolio. Amongst the most important points was the need for an excellent translator and the ability to showcase the growth and lifetime of an artist’s work.

The day ended with further round table discussions between authors, publishers, and illustrators on the progress and development in children’s publishing in the region and worldwide.

Photos below!

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Finalist for UK Alumni Award

Last Tuesday, I was invited to dinner at the British Embassy as a finalist for the UK Alumni Award – Category: Professional Achievement. The British Embassy in Egypt organized an inspiring event where they brought together UK alumni with significant achievements in: professional, entrepreneurial, and social achievements.

It was a wonderful night where these hard working alumni discussed their work they were proud of achieving after their degrees. Needless to say, I met incredible people who were all more impressive than the person sitting next to them.

Pictures of the event:

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School Visit at CISE

This Wednesday, I had the privilege of visiting the Canadian International School in Egypt where I spoke to students from different grades about writing in Egypt and my two books, Melouq and The Lion that Dressed as a Sheep.

The day started with a warm welcome from the elementary school and a presentation to Grades 3 and 4 in the school auditorium. As 135 students looked on, I explained my personal experience writing from the age of nine to where I am today. I entertained questions from the students – many of which I had difficulty answering.

Afterwards, I met with several grade 7 and 8 classes and the grade 12 creative writing class. We discussed writing as a career, the range of opportunities available, and what to keep into consideration. I stumbled through a question on writer’s block that I doubt I answered very satisfactorily. If anyone has found a way to get through it, I’m all ears!

The day ended with a book signing booth in the lobby, where students picked up the book which interested them. It was a wonderful day, and I hope I can meet CISE’s great and curious minds again.

Photos of the day:

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Story Time at CAC

During CAC’s book fair last week, I was asked to introduce my book “The Lion that Dressed as a Sheep” to the elementary students in a story telling session. We sat on comfortable bean bags after school, surrounded by books and holiday decorations.

Further information can be found at this article published by CAC here.

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School Visit at AIS

Yesterday, I had the privilege of visiting the American International School in Egypt. I walked onto the beautiful campus with the goal of speaking to the middle school about my debut novel, Melouq. Furthermore, I was informed that it would be the end of reading month at AIS, so anything I could add about the importance of reading or writing would be much appreciated.

Personally, I knew the perceived (and actual) challenges of writing a novel, so I wanted to explain that even with setbacks, anyone with something to say could become a writer, and eventually an author.

I read what I considered was one of my first stories “If I Were the Sun” to demonstrate what my writing was like at the age of 9. Later, I also read an excerpt from Melouq. Upon finishing it, I asked the audience which was better and received mixed replies.

I have to admit I was slightly disappointed, though not completely surprised.

The questions at the end were plentiful, and I was impressed with the audience. I hope I may be able to visit them again.

Attached are some photos from the day:

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Melouq Book Signing

Yesterday marked the date of the first book signing of Dina Elabd’s debut book, Melouq. After initially being released online via Amazon Kindle Stores, Melouq is officially for sale in Diwan bookstores across Cairo.

The event was generously hosted by Diwan bookstores in their spacious branch in Maadi, Cairo. First, a short summary of the book was explained, and an excerpt of the book was read. The event concluded with questions about the inspiration behind the YA adventure and mystery novel set in Egypt.

Below are some photos of the event:

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Overview of the 35th IBBY International Congress

The 35th IBBY International Congress came to an end, and I’m sure all attendees can agree that it was a great success and that they will miss New Zealand. The complete list of IBBY honor list books are presented in a video here.

A great deal of interesting talks and seminars were held. What stands out were talks by Sir Richard Taylor, producer of Lord of the Rings, Katherine Paterson, author of Bridge to Terabithia, Leigh Hobbs, author of Mr. Chicken Lands on London, and many more. Librarians from Australia and New Zealand explained new techniques they used to encourage children to read such as categorizing books according to interest like pets or football. The amount of research and information about the development of children’s literature was incredible.

The 5 day conference concluded with a Gala dinner where all 500 attendees from around the world were in attendance. It was a real pleasure to have the Hans Christian Anderson Award Winner, Chinese Cao Wenxuan, give his remarkable acceptance speech. The winning illustrator,  German Rotraut Susanne Berner was regrettably not in attendance, but sent a beautiful, personally illustrated video for all of us to watch as her acceptance speech.

All IBBY member states signed off the week by voting on changes in author and illustrator dossier content and submission requirements. Further details will be announced on the IBBY official site.

Here is a slideshow with a few snapshots of the conference. Enjoy!

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Day One of the 35th IBBY International Congress Auckland!

Yesterday was the first day of the 35th IBBY International Congress Auckland. Like their beautiful website, the IBBY Congress was organized and decorated impeccably. Over 500 attendees and VIPs from all around the world were in attendance, a feat for a country as far away from everything as New Zealand.

The day began with a special Maori themed opening, the ancient greeting of the indigenous people of New Zealand. It was a pleasure to be able to hear the horn being sounded, the women sing in greeting, and watch the entire performance. A primary school also performed later, showing five different kinds of dance and song from the five main cultures of NZ.

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Three authors also presented: Joy Cowley of “Mrs. Wishy Washy” an apparently very famous book in NZ, Kate De Goldi, and Witi Ihimaera whom have all made huge contributions in the field of children’s literature. Also, there was a unique Keynote Panel with American author, Leonard Marcus, and British book reviewer, Julia Ecccleshare, titled There is No Such Thing as a Children’s Book. They discussed the differences between American and English markets, why dystopian literature may be popular to YA in a world where adults no longer seem able to control what is going on, how children’s books are often viewed in the lens of whether they are useful rather than enjoyable, and an author’s need to market themselves in the modern world.

Several sessions played throughout the day, twelve in total. The sessions I chose to listen to were very well attended as well, with nearly every seat in the room taken! I was particularly impressed by the session on Children’s Literature in Education Conceptual Development, where Ms. Joanne Purcell of Australia discussed how some authors helped children thinking about thinking itself.

Finally, the day ended with the presentation of the IBBY – Asahi Reading Promotion Awards, going to excellent initiatives in Laos and Iran. The winning initiatives presented their work, and it was very eye – opening. Though their presentations lasted no longer than 10 minutes each, the long and difficult process of their work was clear. In less privileged environments with often illiterate parents and little value given to education, creating a love for reading is a slow uphill journey.

To an equally exciting rest of the conference!


The Lion that Dressed as a Sheep

My very first bedtime story, The Lion that Dressed as a Sheep, is now available on Amazon here and can be purchased as either a paperback or kindle!

This sweet tale tells the story of a girl who saves a lion cub. Unknown to her blind father, she raises the cub and learns a dear lesson of being true and honest to yourself and others. The beautifully illustrated story will put children to sleep happily with a positive message.


Melouq: Mystery and Adventure on the Mediterranean

My very first YA novel, Melouq, has finally been published on Amazon’s kindle platform and is available for purchase here! It is a very exciting time, and hopefully a good beginning. Read the summary below!

The Egyptian coastal town, Ras Zahir, has always been calm and quaint, until researchers from the capital arrive. Based on a storyteller’s tale, they create a competition to find the legendary island of Melouq. But, as three teenagers set sail, is it too much to hope that perhaps they will also find the fruit of the mythical Meldine Tree, promising health and beauty? Nour, Ali, and Dalia sail separately, hoping Melouq may solve their problems. But as long held truths begin to unravel, the island becomes the least of their worries.

“Set sail to the skies,
Let night be your guide;
The tree of heaven
To which you’ll confide.

Whether sea and storm,
The outcome be bleak.
You’ll find both disaster
And the island you seek.”

It has been reviewed by a fellow graduate of Critical Approaches to Children’s Literature, who wrote, “underneath the action, Elabd’s masterfully wrought characters uphold the story as each one sets out on a deeply personal quest, unsure of what lies ahead, sometimes afraid of the truths such a journey may reveal and realizing there is no turning back to the way things used to be.”