“In a quest to become the Queen of Balloons in her neighborhood, Ayah discovers Uncle Omar’s shop for magical solutions. At first, she believes she has unlocked the secret to winning each balloon game. But Ayah ends up learning a much more valuable secret”. That is what you will be discovering in the latest We Love Reading book written by author Lina Qtaishat and illustrated by Ali. Al-Zaini.
The problem of water and climate change is one of the most pressing issues confronting the world today, and it opens the door to an infinite number of opportunities to find various solutions and raise awareness among adults and children in a variety of ways, which is what We Love Reading program and author Lina Qtaishat hope to accomplish in “The Queen of Balloons” book. This was recently produced and inspired by the character of Jordanian scientist Omar Munis Yaghi, a chemistry professor at Berkeley University who invented the technology of extracting water from the air. To simulate the problem of water shortage as one of the most significant future concerns in light of global climate change.
In an interview with Lina Qtaishat, director of research projects and book development in the We Love Reading program, Lina is an architect and interested in the arts, she mentioned that the idea for the book came to her mind during her visit to Korea as a project manager, accompanied by Dr. Rana Dajani, founder of We Love Reading program, and during a discussion to develop a story for children. In the 2023 project, where it was determined that the overall topic of the stories would be science-related, a unique concept had to be picked in order to achieve We Love Reading’s aim of encouraging the children to read for fun.
Lina remembered glimpses of her childhood, to bring herself back to being a child in the place of the reading children. In addition, she placed second in a short-story competition in school. As “Queen of Balloons” was not her first experience with writing. But the first in terms of children’s writing.
Books as influential factor in changing behavior.
Due to the importance of educating children at an early age and teaching children in an indirect or hidden manner, apart from issuing instructions, the writer attempted to avoid idealism and give advice directly, as the story focuses on an activity that children enjoy, without preventing them from doing so, but rather encourages them to research and innovate to find alternative solutions.
In addition, “Queen of Balloons” included common names from the Arab world was also chosen as character names, which makes the child view himself as a character inside the book and highlights the significance of the individual and developing the child’s self-confidence in terms of developing the core character. Therefore, to emphasize short paragraphs and assonance, which made the text easy to hear, as if the child were watching a cartoon movie, a departure from standard children’s literature.
“Reading for pleasure” is the program’s slogan.
We Love Reading program takes responsibility for representing Arab identity and civilization in the content of books as well as in illustrations by depicting the Arab neighborhood and the shape of the characters, as well as the surrounding landscape.
On the other hand, the program considers translating books into various languages and provides an opportunity to share Arab culture with people in other countries.
In this text, the illustrator Ali Al-Zaini, who created the drawings for” Queen of Balloons,” specialized in children’s books and won the Sharjah Children’s Book Award and the Etisalat Award.
Lina remarked that collaboration with painter Ali Al-Zaini helped to create this work, which achieved integration between the author’s idea and his application with his painter, and working with him was a fantastic opportunity via the details that he touched with his brush.
Regardless, visual nourishment in my engineering studies is similar to my experience working with We Love Reading, which created a linguistic stock to produce “Queen of Balloons”, Lina spotted.
“My Joining to We Love Reading program in 2019, and being responsible for the book development department for three years, put me in contact with writers and illustrators, and gave me a greater knowledge of children’s literature in general, in addition to my interaction with children as an ambassador, so I could see through the reading aloud sessions that I held, and this contact, as well as my experience, resulted in my enthusiasm to writing stories for children.”
It is worth noting that the We Love Reading organization has developed more than 30 stories for children between the ages of 4 and 10. In topics include environmental protection, acceptance of mental and physical disabilities, refugees, anti-violence, social unity, and gender equality.
Do not hesitate to obtain free online training on the digital community for We Love Reading’s ambassadors to acquire” Queen of Balloons” and other books from We Love Reading.