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HBKU Press Books Recognized for Impactful Illustrations During 2020-2021 Literary Awards Season

Impactful illustrations that resonate with readers from around the world have been the key drivers to HBKU Press’s success this literary awards season with four out of seven awarded books recognized for their memorable artwork in addition to their meaningful stories

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“At HBKU Press, we understand that the illustrations for children’s books are just as important as the text, which is why our books vary in illustrative styles to complement the stories being told,” explains HBKU Press Design and Production Specialist, Zeyad Aburishaid. “No two books are illustrated alike, each with its own unique nuances and creative look and feel. This is something that strengthens the overall publication and makes it worthy of being recognized among the best of the best, as we’ve seen this past awards season.

“By appreciating the value of illustrations and art, and through international award recognition, HBKU Press cements its commitment to publishing quality books and providing support and international exposure for our creative talents.”

The illustrative content of The Forgotten Garden, One Box, Many Hearts, Swish’s Winning Smile, Migrating Hoopoe, and The Mysterious Blossom were all recognized for their superior visuals that elevated the stories to a create a memorable published book.

Books are typically judged by industry experts including other publishers, editors, authors, and designers. Winners and finalists are determined on the basis of superior written matter coupled with excellent presentation of the final published product.

Illustrations are judged on creativity, uniqueness, style and based on how well they work to highlight the essence of the text. HBKU Press pays particular attention in matching the author’s vision and the illustrator’s unique artistic style in order to produce memorable books recognized by industry professionals.

First-time HBKU Press illustrator, Zahra Amini, was thrilled to learn that her work on HBKU Press author Shaikha Al Zeyara’s latest book, The Mysterious Blossom, was given an Honorable Mention in the category of Best Illustrations at the 2021 Purple Dragonfly Book Awards.

Her imagery was mostly abstract and symbolic in an effort to bring to life the imagined world of the author.

“I was inspired by the lyrical beauty that the author conveyed in the story through the text so I used very mystical colors in my drawings like blue, gray, white and light green. The colors reflect the different moods and tone in the story as well: when the story was intense and at the height of the conflict, the shading was dark and soulful; and when the conflict was resolved, I moved to warmer tones in the same color paletate.

“As the story was set in nature I also really tried to personify and bring to life the characters using their environment as inspiration: the mysterious blossom character was inspired by a flower with a human body and her appendages made from flowers and leaves. She herself is not beautiful in the way we think about a human’s beauty, but hers is a beauty inspired by nature and its wonders – the curve of a delicate petal, the texture of a strong stem. I really do love this character and I’m so grateful that my efforts were recognized by industry professionals in this award!”

The book is Amini’s fourth illustrated children’s book overall and she hopes to continue the working relationship with HBKU Press which she described asfound both “highly professional and a pleasure to work with”.

Author Al Zeyara, who has previously published three books with HBKU Press, recognizes the value that Amini’s illustrations have added to her story.

“This story is unique for me as it’s not like other ones I’ve written – it’s very abstract and I created a fictional world that really doesn’t exist – so working with an illustrator that was able to conceptualize this world was key. The result, the finished book and now an award recognition, is amazing. It’s always an honor to have your work recognized by others in the industry. It means that all your effort and hard work are appreciated and are valued as among the best of the best.

“I’m grateful that HBKU Press engages with these awards – it’s what sets them apart from other publishers. I’ve had a fruitful working relationship with them in the past and I look forward to many more successes together.”

Overall, and in addition to The Mysterious Blossom, the illustrative content of The Forgotten Garden, One Box, Many Hearts, Swish’s Winning Smile, and Migrating Hoopoe were all recognized for their superior visuals that elevated the stories to a create a memorable published book.

HBKU Press’s catalog of works is available in bookstores across Qatar, as well as through the Snoonu, Rafeeq and Purplebox applications.