By Seyyed Mostafa Mousavi Sabet 

Five books by Iranian writers embellish White Ravens Catalogue

October 17, 2021 - 18:26

TEHRAN – Munich’s prestigious International Youth Library (Internationale Jugendbibliothek, IJB) has selected five books by Iranian writers for its 35th edition of the White Ravens Catalogue.

The books are “The Mammals of Iran: Bears and Other Carnivores”, “The Battle of Noruz: Mani + Festival-Makers + Festival-Spoilers”, “Zahhak, the Snake Shoulder: A Story with Seven Narrators”, “Barli, the Balloon Seller and the Dwarf Generals” and “The Orange Girl”.

In a preface to the catalogue, International Youth Library director Christiane Raabe said, “It aims to promote quality in children’s book publishing and has become an increasingly useful tool for anyone interested in looking beyond national borders.”

She added, “Selecting the books for the White Ravens list is one of the tasks of our language and children’s book specialists.” 

“Throughout the year, they set aside new publications that catch their attention and strike them as being noteworthy. Some of these works are then selected for recommendation to an international audience. Books are chosen for the list based on the universal relevance of the themes they address, their literary and pictorial qualities, or their innovative approaches or design,” she noted.

Written by Ali Golshan, “The Mammals of Iran: Bears and Other Carnivores” has been published by the Institute for Intellectual Development of Children and Young Adults – Kanoon.

The outstanding nonfiction book tells a fascinating story about Iran’s nature and takes the readers on a magnificent journey, during which they explore the habitat of bears and other earthbound carnivores native to Iran.

What makes this book very special and distinguishes it from many other works of nonfiction is the author’s use of cross-references and embellishments, including the introduction of folk tales, proverbs and works of art about these animals in Iranian culture, as well as a history of their relationship with humans and their occasional presence in human societies.

In “The Battle of Noruz: Mani + Festival-Makers + Festival-Spoilers”, writer Hadis Lazar-Gholami centers on the many beautiful traditions practiced as part of Noruz, the Persian New Year celebration.

Throughout the story, the writer mentions them in order to remind her young audience of the history of the most important national festival in Iran and how important is it. 

The book has been published by Cheshmeh with illustrations by Mahbubeh Yazdani.

Published by Madreseh, “Zahhak, the Snake Shoulder: A Story with Seven Narrators” has been created by Atusa Salehi based on its original version from the Shahnameh, the epic masterpiece of the Persian poet Abolqasem Ferdowsi.

It is about a good-natured human being who falls into the trap of the devil and becomes an evil-doer and a tyrant himself.

Salehi has streamlined the story for children from the point of view of different characters, including Zahhak the Devil and others.

“Barli, the Balloon Seller and the Dwarf Generals” tells the story of little Barli, a homeless girl who sells balloons under a bridge during the day and sleeps at the same place at night. She finds a way to confront the despotic dwarf generals who rule the country and tries to restore peace and tranquility to her community.

Through literature, writer Seyyed Navid Seyyed Ali-Akbar explains how war, violence and totalitarianism can make our world unsafe and unpleasant.

Illustrated by Narjes Mohammadi, the book has been released by the Elmi Farhangi Publishing Company.

This book is part of a series published in ten volumes under the title of “Stories of Peace and Friendship”.

“The Orange Girl” has been published by Tuti Books, the winner of the BOP - Bologna Prize for the Best Children’s Publishers of the Year in Asia.

Written by Asadollah Sha’bani, the book features one of the oldest Iranian folk tales. There are many variations on this story in Iranian oral literature.

This book is based on a version by Fazlollah Mohtadi Sobhi, whose role in Iranian folk literature can be compared to that of the Brothers Grimm. 

In this story, a king dreams of having a son and after many years his dream comes true. The son becomes big and strong and nobody is a match for him in horse riding and archery. But when he shoots and breaks an old woman’s oil bottle, she says to him, “I hope you fall in love with the orange girl!” 

Thus begins the prince’s quest to find that girl. But after finding her, he falls ill due to the spell of a different, very jealous girl.

Illustrated by Mahkameh Sha’bani, the story has many similarities to the Grimm’s tale “The Goose Girl”. 

The front cover of this year’s White Ravens Catalogue bears an illustration by Montreal-based Iranian artist Nahid Kazemi from her book “Over the Rooftops, Under the Moon” that was selected for the White Ravens 2020. 

The White Ravens Catalogue 2021 contains a selection of 200 notable children’s and young adult books from 54 countries published in 38 languages.

Photo: This combination photo shows the front covers of the Persian books picked for the White Ravens Catalogue 2021.


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