Wed, 06 Dec 2023

SHARJAH, 4th May, 2023 (WAM) - Mexican artist Mariana Alcantara Pedraza has beat global competition to scoop top honour at the 11th annual Sharjah Children's Book Illustration Award with her inspiring illustration of the book ''My Little Bird'', which is an artistically inspiring and heartwarming visual telling of the love shared by a young child and a bird. Pedraza's entry competed against 1,300 artworks by 280 artists from 46 countries to occupy first place in the prestigious competition, and reinforces her valuable contributions as an illustrator and an art lecturer in universities to shape a bright future for the children's book industry in Mexico and beyond.

The winners of the award were announced on the opening day of the 14th annual edition of the Sharjah Children's Reading Festival (SCRF 2023). Ahmed bin Rakkad Al Ameri, Chairman of Sharjah Book Authority (SBA), honoured the top three winners alongside three more artists who received appreciation prizes for their talent and technique.

The Sharjah Children's Book Illustration Award organised annually by SBA is one of the most important global platforms for honouring and promoting creative talents in children's book illustrations. For its 11th edition, the winners were selected from amongst 235 shortlisted works by 85 illustrators from around the world.

Syrian artist Lena Naddaf secured second place in the competition for her illustrations in the book titled The Puzzle of the Lost City. Through her art, she skillfully supports the story's narrative revolving around a child who tries to keep the memories of his home city alive, which he has to flee due to war.

Iranian artist Majid Zakeri Younesi is the second runner-up, whose masterful illustrations in the story titled Mahteti portrays the ancient legend. He used the old Islamic miniature painting style to present the elements of the story. His artwork is characterised by its unique individuality, which he accentuates with a distinct modern touch.

Three artists received encouragement awards. Baraa Al Aawour from Palestine was selected for her creative illustrations that brought together many imaginary creatures to spread joy in the world and instil positive feelings in children; Maria Catalina Vasquez from Chile for her work that recalls childhood and simulates old memories, and Ecuadorian artist Maria Estefania Santos Gallegos who received the Award for her distinguished digital work that blends the worlds of reality and myth.

Through this coveted Award, SBA encourages specialised artists in children's book illustrations to develop high-quality content and illustrations that appeal to the younger generations and instil the love of reading in them as a daily habit.

The jury for this edition featured renowned Emirati artist and sculptor Abdulrahim Salem, Egyptian artist Hani Salah, American artist and author Andrea D'Aquino, Spanish artist Zurine Aguirre, and German artist Vitali Konstantinov.

The prize for the first-place winner is USD 8,000, while the second-place receives 6,000 and the third-place receives 4,000. Encouragement awards recipients received 1,000 each.

Additionally, SCRF announced the winners of the 14th Sharjah Children's Book Award. A Tale of Two Colours by Abdullah Mohammed Al-Sharhan, published by Dar Ajyal, was announced the winner of the Arabic Children's Book (4 - 12 years) category. The Arabic Young Adult book (13 - 17 years) category was awarded to My Digital Grandmother by Ahmed Qarni, and published by Shaan Publishing and Distribution, while the International Children's book (7 - 13 years) category was awarded to the title Incredible History by DK, and published by DK Publishing.

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