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HBKU Press Children’s Books Recognized at 2021 National Indie Excellence® Awards

Four Hamad Bin Khalifa University Press books have been recognized as finalists at the 2021 National Indie Excellence® Awards (NIEA), an award that recognizes self-publishers and independent presses who produce books of excellence in every aspect

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The books include:  A Fright Night, originally in Arabic by Muneera Saad Al Romaihi and illustrated by Fabiola Colavecchio, and Swish’s Winning Smile, written in English by Matthias Krug and illustrated by Nikos Yanopulos, in the category of Children’s Fiction; Migrating Hoopoe, originally in Arabic by Soha Abu Chacra and illustrated by Omar Lafi, in the category of Children’s Inspirational/Motivation; and, The Forgotten Garden, written originally in Arabic by Basma Elkhatib and illustrated by Omar Lafi, in the category of Picture Books All Ages. Translation of the Arabic books were the work of children’s book author and translator Ghenwa Yehia.

“Our inaugural participation in the National Indie Excellence® Award resulted in outstanding recognition and has cemented a new avenue in which to participate in the global literary landscape, and in cross-cultural communications,” explains Bachar Chebaro, Executive Director of Hamad Bin Khalifa University Press. “It highlights our commitment to publishing quality books and providing support and international opportunities for our authors and talents.

“We are extremely proud of all the authors who have been deservedly recognized for this award.”

Established in 2005, the National Indie Excellence® Awards are open to all English language books from small presses, mid-size independent publishers, university presses, and self-published authors. Entrants are judged by book 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.

Doug Fogelson, President National Indie Excellence Awards, said: "Once a small sector of the industry, self and independent publishing has now grown to rival that of the bigger players. The National Indie Excellence® Awards proudly cheer these authors for their enduring vision, talents, and dedication."

A Fright Night is beloved Qatari children’s author Al Romaihi’s fourth book inspired by her own daughter. The protagonist, Hend, refuses to go to sleep at night because she is convinced that creeping around everywhere in the dark corners of her room are monsters! But little does Hend know, that though she may be afraid of monsters, the monsters are in fact afraid of her ‘supermom’ who lovingly explains away simple childhood fears in a way that will have both parents and children sleeping soundly at night.

Swish’s Winning Smile is award-winning author Krug’s first foray into children’s literature. The first in the series follows a football-loving shark who just wants to be a part of the team. But his sharp-toothed smile seems to scare off the other sea creatures. The colorful cast of underwater characters learn important lessons about why they shouldn’t judge others based on their appearance, all while playing the sport they love.

Migrating Hoopoe is author Abu Chacra’s first award recognition though her book was also named HBKU Press’s 2021 World Book Day Book. It follows the inquisitive hoopoe bird, traveling on plains far and wide, as he encounters many different people on his migratory journeys. He follows their paths and learns their stories. Who are these migrating people? What are they leaving behind and what do they hope to find, and why? And most importantly, do their needs, wants, hopes, and desires differ that much from our own?

The Forgotten Garden is Elkhatib’s second award-winning book, in addition to The Light of Hope (Hamad Bin Khalifa University Press, 2019). The story follows an unnamed narrator reflecting on the subtle changes that occur in her neighborhood – unseen, yet constant, as time passes by. In her awe of the changes, she is surprised by a place of beauty and joy that is easily overlooked but always there, silently waiting for someone to slow down, take notice, and appreciate the joy it may bring. The book was also named a finalist at the 2021 Next Generation Indie Book Awards.  

All four books are currently available as eBooks on Kindle, Overdrive and Streetlib. Additionally, Swish’s Winning Smile can be purchased in bookstores across Qatar and is available through the Snoonu, Rafeeq and Purplebox applications in Qatar.