Oud El Sanabel is a modern folktale that starts with a king with three daughters he wishes to marry off. The youngest is proud so her angry father swears to marry her off to whoever comes to the door… the rapidly unfolding story transports readers into a parallel dimension. Wonderfully written by Tobbala, an expert and gifted writer, the story engages your imagination as well as all your senses. You breathe with the characters the heavy air of the city, you hear the racket of carriages speeding off, you taste the salty tears, and you experience the happiness of young love. The story still evokes reality and is filled with layers of meaning. It will be experienced differently by different age brackets – from the innocence of good beating evil for the very young to the complexity of self-sacrifice and pressures of social conformity of the more mature readers.
Illustrations by Dr. Hanady Sleit are an elegant rendering of this fantasy world. Her oil paintings are at once novel and familiar, blending fiction and reality. They work harmoniously with the text and brings the integrated work to full bloom. In short, Oud El Sanabel is a must read for all ages!
Oud El Sanabel (Rod of Racemes)
Author: Affaf Tobbala
Illustrator: Hanady Sleit
Dar Nahdet Masr, 2013
2013 Etisalat Award for Best Children's Book of the Year
Reviewed by Lobna Reda
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