REFLECTIONS FROM THE CREATOR OF HILMY

Written by Rae Norridge
Originally posed on http://www.kubepublishing.com

Every year brings new challenges to us all, and every year we are that bit older. I ask myself, ‘Am I that bit wiser?’

I am in the fortunate position to travel and experience this beautiful world we live in. As an artist, my eyes are constantly seeking new colours, textures and subjects to paint. As an author, my mind searches for new tales to tell, drawing inspiration from the rich diversity nature has to offer. Sitting at a waterhole, with only the sound of the grass rustling in the wind and the constant chatter of the birds is an enriching experience for me. It gives me time to reflect on life.

Very often, in this busy world, we forget the simple rules and principles that make our lives, and the lives of our friends and families, more tolerant and peaceful.

I have written the Hilmy the Hippo series for young children, but I fervently hope that some adults can learn from Hilmy’s adventures too. For those who have not read the series, Hilmy is the central character in each book, and in each adventure that Hilmy undertakes, we learn a lesson in life. Although these stories are simply told, the message is deeply meaningful. I believe we all have a little bit of Hilmy in us. He reminds us of our own human frailties.

We live in a ‘quick fix’ world, the world of the remote control, the egotistical world of ‘this is me’ social network sites, the deceitful world of photo-shopping, the tragic world or cyber-bullying, and so the list goes on. We all need time to reflect on nature, to learn how to take time out from the pressures of the cyber world. Nature, in it’s simplicity, can give us the answers to the complexities of life.

A rhino is killed every nine-and-a-half hours in Africa. Elephants are poached for the greedy desire for ivory. Habitats are destroyed for logging, housing and industry. Should we continue this destruction of our beautiful planet?

We need, as parents and as adults, to take time to reflect on nature and to teach our children the importance of conserving the diminishing world of our natural environment.

In the Hilmy the Hippo series, I have tried to bring to life the characters and the habitat in which they live. I hope that these stories sew the seeds of caring for our environment, protecting and not exploiting endangered creatures like Hilmy and his friends.

Our children are growing up in a challenging world. We, as parents, need to guide them along the path to being caring and happy adults, and to share this beautiful planet with all Allah’s creatures.

Kuthum Burgess (1964–2013): Obituary

Kube Publishing is sad to announce the death of Sister Kulthum Burgess, a talented artist who worked as one of our freelance illustrators.

Kulthum was born Giovanna De Bianchi in Rome in 1964 and embraced Islam in 1987, along with her husband Ahmed Ridwan Burgess. Together they have been living in the UK for the past 20 years.

Kulthum Burgess was a gifted artist. Her career as an artist included work on school murals, producing decorative Islamic tiling and the illustration of children’s books. The first work she undertook for Kube was A School Girl’s Hero by Umm Aamina. This was a challenging project as the book was about the character of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). She also later worked on other titles for Kube: Hannah and her Grandma, The Colour Blind Boy, Our Grandma, Our Granddad, The Lost Ring, and Husna and the Eid Party.

A signature feature of Sister Kulthum’s work was her ability to create recognisable individuals in an accurate and realistic manner, which helped to transform the stories that she illustrated. To do this she used real life models and asked them to pose for photographs, scene by scene, before she would begin her illustrative work. She was committed to depicting people from diverse backgrounds in her artwork. Her work as an illustrator came to be appreciated by a global readership.

Sister Kulthum was sadly diagnosed with cancer some time ago and as a result could not take on any more work illustrating children’s books. We pray Allah grants her the highest rank in Paradise, al-Firdous. Sister Kulthum leaves behind her husband, Ahmed Rizwan, her four sons, Mansoor , Mahmood, Omar and Adam, and her six grandchildren; may Allah grant them all patience and fortitude.

(Written by Anwar Cara on behalf of Kube Publishing)

 Our Grandad Hannah and her GrandmaOur Grandma The Colour Blind Boy School Girl's Hero Husna and the Eid Party

Book Review: Snow White An Islamic Tale

By Kirkus Reviews (paywall)

SNOW WHITE_cov

In this version, the heroine is pious as well as pretty.

Here the setting is Anatolia (in Turkey), which looks similar to a European landscape. Snow White is not a princess, but she still has a jealous stepmother who sends a huntsman to kill her. Seven female dwarfs, all kind and religious, find the girl on their doorstep after the huntsman refuses to do the evil deed. It may sound more or less like the usual story, but the poisoned apple becomes poisoned dates, the fruit that traditionally breaks the Ramadan fast. The poisoned fruit is not dislodged from the girl’s throat when servants stumble, carrying her glass coffin to the prince’s palace (as in Grimm). Nor does the prince kiss Snow White (as in Disney). Here, the prince’s mother and a doctor awaken her with medicine and prayer. The gruesome Grimm ending changes, as it does in many children’s versions, though with a twist: Snow White grants mercy to her evil stepmother and recites a verse from the Quran. Such verses are quoted throughout the text, with references provided. The full-color watercolors, with some Anatolian details in clothing and household goods, are attractive, but the faces are sometimes awkward. Snow White (not quite beautiful) and the stepmother don’t always look the same on different pages.

Created for religious Muslim children, this may be of interest to institutions or families seeking such materials. (glossary) (Picture book/fairy tale. 5-9)

Kube author Jamal Orme talks about the publishing process

Salaams and hello,

Jamal Orme, the author of The Victory Boys, has written two blog posts on his site thevictoryboys.com about the publishing process from the author’s perspective. It is a great piece for any aspiring author to read as he recalls the moments that encouraged him to keep going, how he approached the writing process and what it was like approaching publishers. There will be additional instalments to this piece on his blog but for now, Jamal’s first two posts are below:

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