Hands Around The Library Author's Blog

Blog posts from Karen Leggett Abouraya and Susan L. Roth, the authors of The Hands Around The Library - Protecting Egypt's Treasured Books.

Celebrating Children's Africana Book Awards and New Collaborations with Egypt

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The Baltimore Luxor Alexandria Sister City Committee (BLASCC) and its Friends of the BA (Bibliotheca Alexandrina) have just co-sponsored the Egyptian premier of the film The Sultan and The Saint in Cairo. Two-hundred people attended the Cairo screening and discussion organized by Ezzat Ibrahim with the publication Al Ahram Weekly.  BLASCC Chairman Tharwat Abouraya helped organize two successful screenings in Washington, D.C. at 

Sultan and the Saintthe Egyptian Culture and Education Mission (with Cultural Counselor Mohamed Hamza) and as part of the Montgomery College Rockville/Global Nexus Program (with Enas Elhanafi). 

Yet another screening is planned as part of this month’s International Friends of the BA meeting in Alexandria: The Arabic-subtitled version of The Sultan and The Saint will be open to the public at the BA Tuesday, October 17, from 10:00 am – 12:30 pm, including expert discussion and a Skype Q&A with film director Alex Kronemer.  The film dramatizes a true story of peacemaking between Egyptian Sultan Malik Al Kamal and St. Francis of Assisi during the Crusades – a story with an urgent message for our turbulent times. We anticipate more screenings and discussions in the Baltimore-Washington area and will let you know when they are scheduled.


BLASCC and the Friends are also delighted to announce the beginning of two collaborations between American and Egyptian children. 

  • Sixth graders at the SEED School, a public boarding school in Baltimore, Maryland, are planning to converse online with sixth graders at St. Vincent de Paul Language School in Alexandria, Egypt.  They expect to have regular conversations throughout the year on a variety of subjects. SEED School teacher Dianna Newton and St. Vincent de Paul teacher Virginia Samir are leading the way in this project initiated by BLASCC member Hany Eldeib.


  • I am collaborating with Dalia ElKony, Head of the BA's Children's and Young People's Libraries, and her exemplary staff to bring together students from St. Thomas More Cathedral School in Arlington, Virginia (librarian Mary Anne O’Rourke) and young people at the BA for regular book club discussions. Initially, I will be talking to the St. Thomas More students about the ancient and new libraries in Alexandria. Dalia is eager to organize book clubs with students in both countries reading and discussing common books. If you are interested in initiating a similar project, do let me know!


My own enthusiasm for the library in Alexandria was sparked with the 2012 publication of Hands Around the Library: Protecting Egypt’s Treasured Books. Illustrator Susan L. Roth and I were honored with a Children’s Africana Book Award (CABA) in 2013 and this year, CABA is celebrating its 25th anniversary with a festive dinner on November 3 and a free family festival at the Smithsonian Museum of African Art on November 4.  Make plans to attend both (deadline for dinner reservations is October 20). 

 One of this year’s CABA winners is The Storyteller by Evan Turk, conveying in a beautifully illustrated picture book the magical power of storytelling.  My Pencil Tips Writing Workshop blog here provides some writing prompts for young people based on Evan’s book.    



CABA has now honored a total of 90 books set in 24 African countries, with a website that offers scholarly reviews and criteria for evaluating books that truly reflect the diversity of the African continent. All seven current winners and more than ten former winners are planning to attend the CABA dinner and the festival. 





The film screenings, the school collaborations and the CABA awards are all ways of building global awareness and empathy – I look forward to sharing progress in future blogs. Please share your own projects and ideas to expand the next generation's awareness of our wider world.






  • Guest
    Karen Leggett Abouraya Friday, Oct 13, 2017

    Thank you very much, Barb. All the 2017 CABA winners are listed here http://africaaccessreview.org/caba-2017/ and elsewhere on the website, many other award winners from previous years!

  • Guest
    Barb Langridge, abookandahug.com Friday, Oct 13, 2017

    This is such an exciting collaboration, Karen. Kudos to you and all involved. This is the first I have heard of the Children's Africana Book Awards. These are so important.

    I am going to dedicate some time to finding the award list and adding these titles to abookandahug.com along with the information that they are CABA winners!

    Your work is so powerful and essential to bringing us close to each other.

    Bless you.

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