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Arabic short story wins inaugural Rainbow Caterpillar kidlit award

Toronto-based Rainbow Caterpillar Multilingual Children’s Bookshop named Ahmad Marouf the winner of the first Rainbow Caterpillar Children’s Literature in a Mother Language Award. The bookshop presented Marouf with the $750 prize at the Canadian Ethnic Media Association’s annual awards gala in Toronto on Saturday night.

Ahmad Marouf, pictured far right, received the Rainbow Caterpillar prize for children's literature at CEMA's annual gala Saturday night in Toronto. Photo: Alexander Gershstein, courtesy of CEMA

Marouf, a journalist and script writer with Radio Canada International’s Arabic division, beat out 36 other entries in eight languages to claim the prize for his Arabic-language short story “Sea of Pearls.”

The panel of 13 multilingual judges also singled out the following works for honourable mention:

  • Farzaneh Moaven, “Who Do You Love the Most?” (Farsi)
  • Letizia Tesi, “Gino Salamino” (Italian)
  • Sonia Sa, “The Happy King” (Portuguese)
  • Liet Lee Lopes, “The First Snowman” (Spanish)
  • Gerald Luzangi, Dorothy Luzangi, and Verdiana Mhate Luzangi, “Hunter with the Snake” (Swahili)

The award recognizes excellence in writing for children in a language other than French or English by a Canadian citizen or resident. In a press release launching the contest, bookshop owners Happie Testa and Hanoosh Abbasi said the award supports vibrant literary production for children in foreign languages, but with a uniquely Canadian perspective.