- "Read With Me" Picture Books (published by TAK)
- دیو سیاه و موش سفید / Black demon and white mouse
- هویج پالتوپوش / Carrot Coat
- هفت اسب هفت رنگ / In The Meadow of Fantasies (Or 'seven Horses, Seven Colours')
- دختر انار / The Daughter of Pomegranate
- ۱۸+۲ دارکوب / Two + Eighteen Woodpeckers
- گوشبال، بالگوش / The Little Elephant (Ear to Wing, Wing to Ear)
- Other picture books by TAK and Vine Books (publishing imprints of IRHCL)
- خرگوشان چشمه ماه / The Rabbits of the Spring and the Moon
- وقتی اندوه به دیدارم میآید / When Sadness Comes to Call
- آنجا که شادی آغاز میشود / Where Happiness Begins
- Poetry – Tak and Vine Books
- باهم بزرگ شدیم درخت ها و من / Trees and I Grow Up Together
- گربه دارم چه زرنگ / I Have a Clever Cat
- دویدم و دویدم / I Ran and Ran
- For the Very Young – tAK and Vine books
- دوستان خوب / Good Friends; نه مثل هم / Not like that;
- نگاه من، شکلهای من / Look, my shapes; تا ده بشماریم / Count to ten
- خر کوچولو / Little donkey Series
- خر کوچولو / Little donkey
- خر کوچولو و تولد یاکی / Little Donkey and the Birthday Present
- خر کوچولو حمام میکند / Little Donkey Takes a Bath
- یک لقمه کوچولو برای خر کوچولو / Eat Up Little Donkey
- Novels – TAK and Vine books
- Old Iranian Folktales series by Tuti Books
- دختر نارنج و ترنج / The Orange and Bergamot Girl
- خودک و دیو کلک / Little Pea And The Sneaky Beast
- نمکی / Namaki
- ماچوچه و کلاغ / Tippler And The Crow
- کچل تنبل و دیو پخمه / The Lazy Baldy and the Foolish Monster
- Other Tuti Picture Books
- والک و رویای سفر / My Adventury Story (Little Whale’s Big Dream)
- جادوی خواب / A Magical Sleep
- آماده باش هلولا! / The Bogey In Mommy’s Tummy!
- باور کنید من مرغ ماهیخوار نیستم! / Believe Me, I’m Not An Egret!
- عمو نوروز و پیرزن / Uncle Nowruz And The Old Lady
- جهان مال من است / The World Is Mine
- چه فکر خوبی! / What a Brilliant Idea!
- پسری که جادویی شد / The Boy Who Went Magic (novel)
- صهی یک سال مزخرف / Ebb and Flow
Exploring the world of children’s literature and illustrated books has taken me on a raft of exciting and illuminating journeys. Since starting this blog back in 2016, I’ve been blessed to have crossed paths with many talented and passionate individuals. What started as an undertaking to share my home library with the world, has evolved into a rewarding exploration of unique books encompassing many languages from around the world.
Most recently, I was presented with an exciting new opportunity to spread my love of illustrated books in a way that aligns with this exploration. I have been appointed to curate book acquisition lists for the multi-lingual children’s literature store “Lost in Books”, based in Sydney, Australia. The task includes researching children’s books in multiple languages, with an aim to source the best for the “Lost in Books” customers and community to enjoy.
I’m fluent in three languages, but these three are nowhere near enough to deal with the scope of this undertaking, so I’m learning to lean heavily on Google Translate, along with a little help from my multilingual friends and social media connections. This exciting challenge has evolved into the most edifying and inspiring learning experience I could have imagined…a book odyssey like no other.
The best part is that I get to share these amazing books from some of the worlds most talented authors, illustrators and publishers here on my blog. I’m looking forward to shining a light into the far-flung corners of the globe and coming up with some real gems, so buckle up and join me on this journey of discovery.
My first port of call has been researching and compiling a list of books in the Persian (also known as Farsi) language. This is a language with an extremely rich history, literature and cultural tradition. It is the most widely spoken member of the Iranian branch of the Indo-Iranian languages, a subfamily of the Indo-European languages. Farsi is spoken today primarily in Iran, Afghanistan and Tajikistan but has more than 110 million speakers around the world as their first or second language.
I stand in admiration of the wealth of talent amongst Iranian children’s book writers and illustrators (check out these earlier posts on my encounters with some). Their work is recognised by too many international and national awards and honours to list here.
If your child’s fisrt language is Persian or you are raising bi-lingual kids whose second language is Persian, you are sure to find many great leads in this post overviewing almost 40 recently published, awesome books in Persian. Even if you don’t speak Persian but are interested in book illustration art you might enjoy a glimpse inside each book. These are classified into 3 sections:
- Published by TAK Books, a publishing arm of the reputable Iranian Institute for Research on the History of Children’s Literature. This includes books produced by the award-winning “Read with Me” program championed by the Institute.
- Published by Tuti Books which has won the 2021 Bologna Children’s Books Award for Best Publisher, Asia.
- Other publishers books.
Most books in this list were published in 2021 and 2020 and many have already won or were nominated for a variety of international awards, competitions and honour lists. This is by no means an all-inclusive list of the best children’s books in the Persian language, so if you know and love other titles in Persian, please leave a comment below this post and share these. Your recommendation might help parents reading this article find a hidden gem that may ignite a passion for reading in their child. Enjoy!
Iranian Institute for Research on the History of Children’s Literature – “Read With Me” Project
“Read wtih Me” is an intercultural project designed and implemented by the Iranian Institute for Research on the History of Children’s Literature (IRHCL), which is a non-governmental not-for-profit organisation founded in 2000 to conduct research on the history of children’s literature. One of its major achievements was the publication of 10 volumes of the history of children’s literature in Iran.
The main objective of the “Read with Me” project of IRHCL is to make quality books accessible to children who are deprived of cultural activities and don’t have access to books, like street working children and young adults or those living in remote and underprivileged areas of Iran. Below are some striking examples of the program in action, with volunteers and program supporters reading to children of nomadic families, children in remote areas affected by earthquakes and those who went through the trauma of war and violence. Check out this “Read with Me” portfolio for more heart-warming and heart-breaking images of this program in action.
Apart from its numerous activities to promote reading, “Read with Me” also produces fabulous Iranian picture books. Published by TAK Books, an arm of the IRHCL, these books’ creation is stewarded by the Art Directors Marit Törnqvist and Zohreh Ghaeni. Marit Törnqvist is a prominent Dutch illustrator and author of children’s books, a personal friend of the late Astrid Lindgren and winner of the IBBY iRead 2020 Outstanding Reading Promoter Award.
Zohreh Ghaeni is a children’s literature expert, translator, lecturer, researcher and historian. She is the co-writer of the 10-volume research book on the History of Children’s Literature in Iran. She is currently the head of the “Read with Me” project and in the past has also served as the IBBY Executive committee member from 2016 to 2020.
So far, as part of the “Read with Me” initiative, a group of young and creative Iranian illustrators mentored by Marit Törnqvist have produced 6 fabulous picture books. All these books (shown in more detail below) have been written by Mohammad Hadi Mohammadi, one of the founding members of IRHCL, a distinguished Iranian children’s book writer, a respected scholar, researcher, critic and an authority on Iranian children’s literature.
He is a strong proponent of women’s rights and has centred strong and confident girls as his heroines throughout his career. Together with Zohreh Ghaeni, he has co-written the 10-volume research book on the History of Children’s Literature in Iran. For his dedication and contribution to the children’s literature and reading, promotion causes Mohammad Hadi Mohammadi was nominated for Hans Christian Andersen Award in 2006. His books are recognised as winners and nominees for various awards nationally in Iran and internationally. Most recently, his book “In the Meadow of Fantasies” (shown below) was selected for 2021 IBBY’s Collection for Young People with Disabilities.
For its dedication to creating quality children’s books, reading promotion and delivering outstanding programs to deprived and remote children in Iran, “Read with Me” was nominated for Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award 5 times, most recently in 2021. In 2015, it was nominated for the UNESCO-Japan Prize on Education for Sustainable Development. In 2016, this project was the recipient of the IBBY-Asahi Reading Promotion Award. Head of “Read with Me” Zohreh Ghaeni was nominated for the IBBY-iRead Award in 2020. Below you can browse all six fabulous picture books produced by the “Read with Me” project so far.
“Read With Me” Picture Books (published by TAK)
دیو سیاه و موش سفید / Black demon and white mouse
Black demon mistreats other animals that take refuge in his warm soft lap. Mice, cats, dogs and lions are all confronted with the black demon’s violent behaviour until a small white mouse sleeps next to it. The black demon, who can not stand the annoyance of others picks up a stone to hit the white creature. But then he takes a closer look the demon falls in love with the beautiful white mouse. He uses dry grass of the plains to make a quilt and uses it to cover his tiny new love to keep her warm…
“Black Demon and White Mouse” written by the distinguished Iranian author, Mohammad Hadi Mohammadi, a nominee for Hans Christian Andersen Award and illustrated by young talented artist Keyvan Akbari who was mentored by Marit Törnqvist and Zohreh Ghaeni – a book’s production team does not get any more remarkable than this.
Author: محمد هادی محمدی /Mohammad Hadi Mohammadi Illustrator: کیوان اکبری / Keyvan Akbari ISBN: 9786007112496, 2017
هویج پالتوپوش / Carrot Coat
This story blurs the boundaries of reality and delves into the world of dreams – a world in which things take on different colours, shapes morph into each other and entirely new worlds are being created with their own conventions and rules. The two story’s protagonists are the sun and the rabbit. One in the sky, the other on earth. One is awake, the other asleep. One speaks, the other weaves. The story makes use of language games and questions to differentiate reality from a dream but step by step, the sun and the rabbit in this game-of-language merge and become one.
“Carrot Coat” is another unmissable “Read with Me” project’s production, with a creative team of a distinguished author and a young talented illustrator showcasing their artistry under a prominent artist’s mentorship.
Author: محمد هادی محمدی / Mohammad Hadi Mohammadi Illustrator: مهسا منصوری / Mahsa Mansouri ISBN: 9786007112502, 2017
هفت اسب هفت رنگ / In The Meadow of Fantasies (Or ‘seven Horses, Seven Colours’)
Not a folktale, not a poem, not a dream, but some swirling mixture of all three, this lulling recitation by Iranian author Mohammadi affirms generosity as one’s natural impulse. A paper-white girl in bed beside a wheelchair imagines into life the seven horses of a mobile that hangs above her…” (from ‘Publishers Weekly’ review). This book was included in the IBBY 2021 list of Outstanding Books for Young People with Disabilities.
The picture book production for “Seven Horses, Seven Colours” is a fantasy story, in which a bedridden girl whose world is quiet and cold creates a new world. In her imagination, she begins running in a field with seven mysterious horses. Six horses have their own colours, dreams, families, they know their origin and live with a sense of belonging. The seventh horse is quite different from others – motionless, colourless and it does not know where it comes from and where it belongs. Through friendship and community, the six horses share their colours with the seventh so that all find a sense of belonging. The story continues as the horses travel through different stages; in each, the horses share various aspects of themselves with the one that’s lacking it. Later, the seventh horse shares his space, thoughts and colours with the young girl, whose life assumes new meaning and motivation.
This book’s brilliant illustrations are beautiful line drawing washed with luminous watercolours. “I was in love with Nooshin Safakhoo’s drawings from the first time I saw them. Every line she draws is hers and no one else’s.”, said Marit Törnqvist. Illustrations for this book won Nami Concours Prize and work by this talented Iranian artist has been shown at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair several times.
Author: محمد هادی محمدی / Mohammad-Hadi Mohammadi Illustrator: نوشین صفاخو / Nooshin Safakhoo Persian ISBN: 9786007112519, 2018 English ISBN: 9781939810908, 2021 Archipelago Books
دختر انار / The Daughter of Pomegranate
Grandma always took orange light from the sun and sprinkled it on the trees and plants. She brought the colour blue from the sky to the earth and sprinkled it over the pond with the red fish… One autumn old grandma “went away with the swallows”, leaving behind the little girl, her mother, and the pomegranate tree that grandma planted in the garden. Only grandma’s cane was left behind. The girl has searched for grandma everywhere, she’s taken good care of her cane. Where could she have gone without her cane? As the seasons passed, the girl came to understand that grandma’s journey was that from which one does not return.
A heartwarming tale about the one who leaves this world but is always remembered for the thousand signs of love and the thousand stories they bestowed. This is the fourth “Read with Me” project’s creation, written by the distinguished Iranian author, Mohammad Hadi Mohammadi, a nominee for Hans Christian Andersen Award and illustrated by young talented Iranian artist Neda Rastinemeh mentored by Marit Törnqvist and Zohreh Ghaeni.
Author: محمد هادی محمدی / Mohammad-Hadi Mohammadi Illustrator: ندا راستینمهر / Neda Rastinemehr ISBN: 9786226986205, 2020
۱۸+۲ دارکوب / Two + Eighteen Woodpeckers
20 children live in a village surrounded by lush forest with 20 woodpeckers who tap and drum on the trunks of the trees. 18 children each befriend a woodpecker because they can hear the woodpecker’s drumming. The other 2 can not because their ears are silent. Those 2 clever woodpeckers find an inventive way of communicating with the deaf kids by substituting feathers for sounds and inventing a sign language. Beautifully written, metaphorical, poetic and with vibrant illustrations.
This 5th book produced by the “Read with Me” program was the laureate of the 2021 International Illustration and Book Design Competition “Image of the Book” in Moscow. It was also shortlisted for the 2021 Bologna Children’s Book Fair Awards, selected for the 2020 COW Illustration Biennale and nominated for the 2020 Brightness International Picture Book Awards.
Check out my detailed review and see more of the fabulous illustrations from the “18+ 2 Woodpeckers” here.
Author: محمد هادی محمدی / Mohammad Hadi Mohammadi Illustrator: سلیمه باباخان / Salimeh Bababkhan ISBN: 9786226986335, 2021
گوشبال، بالگوش / The Little Elephant (Ear to Wing, Wing to Ear)
The little elephant thought that his big ears were wings that mistakenly grew on his head. But he wants to have wings and to fly like a bird. He asks the giraffes for help. But cutting and sewing isn’t the job for giraffes, perhaps monkey can help? Monkey the tailor cuts the baby elephant’s ears off his head and sews them onto his back. Did it work? Can little elephant fly now? Oh no! Something’s wrong…
This is the sixth and so far the last book produced by the stellar team of “Read with Me” creatives with Mohammad Hadi Mohammadi as the author and Marit Törnqvist and Zohreh Ghaeni as Art directors and mentors to the illustrator. Young talented Iranian artist Solmaz Joshaghani has inventively illustrated it with 3D animals and scenes assembled from cardboard and boxes. Children can have lots of fun replicating these shapes and re-enacting the story.
Author: محمد هادی محمدی / Mohammad Hadi Mohammadi llustrator: سولماز جوشقانی / Solmaz Joshaghani ISBN: 9786226986342, 2021
Other picture books by TAK and Vine Books (publishing imprints of IRHCL)
خرگوشان چشمه ماه / The Rabbits of the Spring and the Moon
Here’s a retelling of a fable originally written in “Kalila and Demna” (the early Persian translation of Sanskrit Panchatantra – an ancient book with Indian roots).
It tells of a happy community of Rabbits living in lush green pastures abundant with water springs, ponds and lakes. A herd of Elephants migrates away from its dried-out land to these green pastures and settles around the lakes and waterholes disturbing the balance of life in the lush rabbits land. The rabbits get desperate but the wise one amongst them finds a way to outsmart the big Elephants and drive their herd away restoring the peace and harmony in the rabbits’ homeland.
This book was a winner in the 2020 “Original Picture Book” nomination at the International Illustration and Book Design Competition “Image of the Book” in Moscow. Its illustrations were included as one of the finalists in the 2020 Bologna Children’s Book Fair Illustrators Exhibition. Check out my detailed review and see more ground-breaking beautiful images from “The Rabbits of the Spring and the Moon” here.
Author: محمد هادی محمدی / Mohammad Hadi Mohammadi Illustrator: امیر شعبانیپور / Amir Shabanipour ISBN: 9786226986014, 2021 (TAK Books)
وقتی اندوه به دیدارم میآید / When Sadness Comes to Call
This book serves to help children learn to identify the emotion of sadness and how to accept it instead of ignoring and suppressing it. Intrusive grief (or sadness) comes to the child’s house and makes itself comfortable as a house guest. Grief follows the child everywhere. It gets so close that it becomes difficult for the child to breathe.
Seemingly simple drawings by Eva Eland work with colourless backgrounds accentuating the child and the overbearing “grief” to great effect. First published in 2019 in English, this was Eva Eland’s debut book that saw mind-blowing success. It has been translated into 20 languages since.
The book was shortlisted for the 2019 World of Illustration Award, longlisted for the 2020 Kate Greenaway Medal and the 2020 UKLA Book Awards, it was the winner of the 2020 V&A award in the book cover category and the winner of the 2020 Klaus Flugge Prize for the most promising and exciting newcomer in picture book illustration. It was selected for The Original Art 2020 exhibit by the Society of Illustrators in New York, received a merit award for the 2019 Little Hakka International Picture Book Award and was selected for the 2019 Bratislava Illustration Biennial by IBBY UK.
Auhtor and illustrator: زهره قایینی / Eva Eland Translator: زهره قایینی / Zohreh Ghaeni Persian ISBN: 9786226986038, 2021 (TAK Books) English Paperback ISBN: 9781783447954, 2019 (Walker Books Australia) English Hardback ISBN: 9780525707189, 2019 (Penguin Putnam Inc)
آنجا که شادی آغاز میشود / Where Happiness Begins
This is a sequel to Eva Eland’s multi-award winning book “When Sadness Comes to Call” shown above. The sequel helps the young ones explore the emotion of happiness. Sometimes happiness feels elusive, and sometimes you might have so much of it that you can’t help but share it. You can try to chase it, control it or capture it, but even if it seems like it’s gone for a while, you’ll know it’s never far away. “Where Happiness Begins” has been nominated for the 2021 Kate Greenaway Award for illustration and longlisted for the 2021 UKLA Book Awards.
Auhtor and illustrator: زهره قایینی / Eva Eland Translator: زهره قایینی / Zohreh Ghaeni Persian ISBN: 9786226986373, 2021 (TAK Books) English Paperback ISBN: 9781783448562, 2021 (Walker Books Australia) English Hardback ISBN: 9781783448555, 2020 (Walker Books Australia)
Poetry – Tak and Vine Books
باهم بزرگ شدیم درخت ها و من / Trees and I Grow Up Together
This is a collection of 20 poems each conveying the author’s fascination and special connection with trees. Trees that can feel, smile, cry and are sadly being destroyed in the name of progress. Every tree is a universe, says the author when talking about this book. They are silent, calm and steadfast. The old garden pine tree at the end of the alley is the home of crows. The cypress tree cut down and laying in the middle of the alley offered beams for building the neighbour’s house. Trees on the streets of a large city breathe in smoke and dust…
The poems are arranged in order and tell of the narrator’s life as witnessed by trees, from the age of one until adolescence. In the first poem, the narrator is a baby held in her mother’s arms looking up to an elm tree under which they are resting. Safoura Nairi was motivated to write this collection of poems when she could not find a book of poetry that she would want to read to her own children. This book of poems was recognised with an honorary diploma by the International Office for Children and Adolescents.
Author: صفورا نیری / Safoura Nairi Illustrator: محمدهادی محمدی / Hassan Ameikon ISBN: 9786007112816 2019 (Vine Books)
گربه دارم چه زرنگ / I Have a Clever Cat
A traditional Persian children’s rhyming song that Mohammad Hadi Mohammadi has adapted and retold for modern-day children. The rhythm and melodic qualities of its traditional rhymes have been carefully preserved. This song has been around for more than two centuries. Mahmud Khan, the king of Saba poets, who lived during the Qajar and Fath Ali Shah eras, is said to have composed it.
The publisher notes it as suitable for 1 year old and up. The detailed and bright illustrations in this picture book will charm the youngest readers.
Author: محمد هادی محمدی / Mohammad Hadi Mohammadi Illustrator: پرستو حقی / Parasto Haghi ISBN: 9786226986472 2021 (TAK Books)
دویدم و دویدم / I Ran and Ran
“I ran and ran
What I saw and did not see
I reached the top of the mountain
I saw the morning sun
It was the sun and two women
They gave me water and bread”
“I Ran and Ran” is considered one of the oldest traditional Iranian rhyming songs that are now firmly written into its cultural heritage folklore. It introduces young children to various occupations and life pursuits. Mohammad Hadi Mohammadi has adapted and retold it for modern-day children. Beautiful illustrations by Hassan Ameikon evoke the distant past’s vibes.
Author: محمد هادی محمدی / Mohammad Hadi Mohammadi Illustrator: حسن عامهکن / Hassan Ameikon ISBN: 9786009382767, 2016
For the Very Young – tAK and Vine books
دوستان خوب / Good Friends; نه مثل هم / Not like that;
نگاه من، شکلهای من / Look, my shapes; تا ده بشماریم / Count to ten
“Good Friends” – An early reader about animals. Each animal is presented with a focus on a particular characteristic. Playful prompts encourage little readers to imagine a fox that loves butterflies or a mouse that loves pears. At the end of the book, all animals are shown gathered together in a circle of friends.
“Not Like That” – An early reader introducing the simplest mathematical concepts of sizes and heights. Two images opposite each other are used to demonstrate contrasts.
“Look, My Shapes” – An early reader on shapes. Encourages children to see what’s around them in basic shapes: triangular, rectangular and round, so that they can build on these and gradually discover and understand more complex shapes.
“Count to Ten” – An early reader counting book. Includes a variety of images of animals and plants to count from 1 to 10. In addition to the concept of counting, children are introduced to the shapes and names of plants and animals, enriching their vocabulary. Animals such as penguins, zebras, toucans, elephants, leopards, lions, and various types of trees are shown.
Auhtor: تدوین: زهره قایینی / Zohreh Ghaeni Illustrator: کیوان اکبری / Keyvan Akbari ISBN: 9786007112687 ISBN: 9786007112694 ISBN: 9786007112700 ISBN: 9786007112717 Years of publishing: 2019-2020
خر کوچولو / Little donkey Series
Little Donkey is a delightful collection for the very young (which includes many more titles than these four translated into Persian). These picture books, by the award-winning Dutch author Rindert Kromhout and illustrator Annemarie Van Haeringen, tell of the simple everyday experiences and little ‘struggles’ that every toddler is guaranteed to relate to. Little Donkey’s mother has to be inventive at problem-solving and trouble-shooting, staying kind all the while.
Following the great success of the book series, Rindert Kromhout has written the musical “Little Donkey” which has premiered in 2005 in Amsterdam. For his script and lyrics, Rindert Kromhout received a nomination for the John Kraaykamp Musical Awards in 2005, in the category Best Content Creation. It has been later translated into English and toured in Canada and the United States where it was performed on Broadway in 2006. Travelling far and wide, the musical toured in Hong Kong, China and Japan in 2007. “Little Donkey and the Birthday Present” was awarded the Austrian Children’s and Youth Book Prize in 2003 as well as the Heidelberger Leander (a German prize).
خر کوچولو / Little donkey
Little Donkey is going out and Mama Donkey isn’t allowed to come along. “You don’t have to,” says Little Donkey. “I’m a big donkey now!” There he goes, alone for the first time in the big wide world.
خر کوچولو و تولد یاکی / Little Donkey and the Birthday Present
It’s Jackie’s birthday and Little Donkey picks out the perfect present for his friend, a kite with a very long tail. The problem is, Little Donkey decides that he’d rather keep it for himself. Children will relate to Little Donkey’s dilemma in this tale with a happy twist at the end.
خر کوچولو حمام میکند / Little Donkey Takes a Bath
“Come, my donkey,” says Mama Donkey, “it’s time for your bath and your bed.” “But I am not tired yet!” cries Little Donkey, who’d rather keep playing happily with Jackie.
یک لقمه کوچولو برای خر کوچولو / Eat Up Little Donkey
“Little Donkey doesn’t want his lunch. He throws the plate through the air like a Frisbee. Mama doesn’t lose her cool though. She decides it’s a good time to go to the park. In the park, Mama and Little Donkey meet the ducks and Mama offers them lunch. “Hello, ducks. Eat as much as you like. Little Donkey isn’t hungry ”. But wait for a second, he is now.
Auhtor: ریندرت کرم هاوت / Rindert Kromhout Translators: رجمه: سارا یوسفپور و هورزاد عطاری / Sara Yousefpour and Horzad Attari Illustrator: آنه ماری فان هار اینگن / Annemarie Van Haeringen ISBN: 9786226986137 ISBN: 9786226986151 ISBN: 9786226986144 ISBN: 9786226986168, 2020
Novels – TAK and Vine books
آواره بی خورشید / A Wanderer Without a Sun
Booman is an eleven-year-old Afghan boy whose home was bombed by the Taliban. Booman, his mother and grandmother are the only survivors as the rest of the family died in the bombing. Mother and grandmother insist on sending the boy to Iran, where he could be better protected from the horrors of the Taliban war. The days of Booman’s sweet childhood are over. What follows is the story of hardship, darkness and survival.
The plot moves through several locations including Bamyan at a time when the Taliban were advancing from village to village and destroying Buddha statues and other cultural heritage; Kabul, which was taken over by military conflict; the outskirts of Tehran, Shahriyar and Varamin, where Afghan migrants were working, mainly in agricultural jobs. The story ends in the Afghan refugee camp near the Khorasan-Herat border.
At this refugee camp, the boy meets a former teacher who has lost his wife and only daughter in Kabul and was himself tortured by Taliban soldiers for being a teacher. The teacher’s life is shattered, but when he meets the young Afgan refugee he decides to pick up his pen again and write down his story.
This book was written by the author Mohammad Hadi Mohammadi, who has been mentioned numerous times during this article when referencing his other works as diverse as picture books, old Iranian folk tales retelling and adapted traditional Iranian rhymes and songs. His talent knows no bounds, and here Mohammadi has penned a full-length novel.
Author: محمد هادی محمدی / Mohammad Hadi Mohammadi Illustrator: حسن عامه كن / Hassan Aame Kan ISBN: 9786226986281, 2020
عینکی برای اژدها / Glasses for the Dragon
“The story began when I was an eight-year-old child. Years have passed since then. I am now an ophthalmologist and I have a seven-year-old daughter. I am writing this story because of the promise I made to Grandma Dragon. Of course, my daughter is also involved. Because she, like me, loves spectacled dragons…” (author’s note).
This is the story of a girl named Asal who finds an ancient dragon, the protagonist of ancient legends, living in a cave near their village. Old dragon’s eyesight is now very poor, she can hardly see anything. The dragon is taking refuge in a cave, hiding from the ruthlessness of people. Asal befriends the dragon intending to help the dragon see better.
An engaging fantasy plot, a fusion of elements of ancient storytelling with a modern-day setting, which might be appealing to upper primary school kids. Like the previous novel, this fantasy creation was penned by the distinguished and versatile Iranian author Mohammad Hadi Mohammadi.
Author: محمد هادی محمدی / Mohammad Hadi Mohammadi Illustrator: کیوان اکبری / Keyvan Akbari ISBN: 964-305-234-6, 2020
Children’s books by Tuti Books
Tuti Books is a wonderful Iranian publisher that produced many award-winning children’s books recognised all over the world across a variety of international competitions, awards, honourable mentions lists and prizes. Tuti Books has won the “Best Children’s Publisher of the Year 2021, Asia” Bologna Children’s Book Fair’s Prize for the Best Children’s Publishers of the Year. This award recognises publishers who have most distinguished themselves for their professional and intellectual skills in each of the six areas of the world: Africa, Central, and South America, North America, Asia, Europe and Oceania. The Prize is designed to foster a mutual exchange of knowledge and ideas among different countries and cultural identities throughout the world.
Tuti is the Persian word for “Parrot” – a bird that is ingrained deeply in Iranian folk literature and is known for uttering fascinating stories. Tuti Books is among a handful of active publishes in Iran that is dedicated to publishing high-quality content for children and young adults.
Enjoy browsing a selection of wonderful picture books and novels for older kids below. These books are beautifully illustrated by some of Iran’s best illustrators and include stories from Iranian folklore and poetry to modern-day fantasies exploring contemporary concerns and adversities, all the while teaching without preaching to the kids and helping to inspire a love of reading. All images included below are from Tuti Books website.
Old Iranian Folktales series by Tuti Books
Tuti Books is producing a fabulous 10-title series of old Iranian folktales. The titles have been selected from a pool of about 200 suggestions. Five titles are from the ‘Book of Morning Stories’, containing Iran’s most famous national legends. The other 5 titles are retelling legends from various parts of Iran. Each title is a retelling of a well-known folktale, each an important part of Iran’s oral literature. The tales are adapted to suit today’s children and are accompanied by stunning eye-catching illustrations by some of the best Iranian artistic talents. These books go a long way in promoting Iran’s rich body of art, culture, and literature. Enjoy browsing five of the recent titles in the Old Iranian Folktales series, shown below.
دختر نارنج و ترنج / The Orange and Bergamot Girl
An old Iranian tale about the king’s son who has grown into a handsome, strong prince and nobody can match him in horse riding and archery. One day the prince shoots his arrow and breaks an old woman’s oil bottle. The old woman condemns him to fall in love with the Orange Girl. But isn’t the prince just lucky? They say that the Orange Girl lives beyond the mountains in the magic land and that anyone who has ever wandered there has never returned… The prince sets about to find his love on a journey of complications, rife with hardships. Will love conquer all?
“The Orange and Bergamot Girl” was selected for the 2021 White Ravens catalogue, published by the International Youth Library in Munich. which includes 200 best titles from 54 countries in 38 languages. This is Tuti Book’s 5th title included in this prestigious list (another recent title that made it to the White Ravens catalogue -“What a Brilliant Idea” – is shown below).
Author: اسدالله شعبانی / Asadollah Shabani Illustrator: مهکامه شعبانی / Mahkameh Shabani ISBN: 978-622-6630-33-7, 2020
خودک و دیو کلک / Little Pea And The Sneaky Beast
“Little Pea and the Sneaky Beast” is an old Iranian folktale that explores the themes of one’s true potential and abilities. Little Pea is different, she is tiny in size but quick-witted and smart, and can emerge victorious from even the most difficult and threatening situations.
Once upon a time, there was an old couple. They lived a good life but had no children. One day, when the old lady was cleaning a bowl of peas, she saw a tiny little girl at the bottom of the bowl. They named her “Little Pea” and she became the old couple’s daughter. So begins this tale of a tiny little girl who will outwit the big and scary beast…
This book was the winner of the 2020 International Illustration and Book Design Competition “Image of the Book” in Moscow.
Author: اسدالله شعبانی / Asadollah Shabani Illustrator: علی بوذری / Ali Boozari ISBN: 978-622-6630-17-7, 2020
نمکی / Namaki
“Namaki” is an old Iranian folktale that celebrates the wit and intelligence that may lead one out of any problem big or small. Imagine having a house with eight doors. Namaki forgot to close the eighth door and a beast has entered the house. Now Namaki has to figure out a way to throw the beast out…
Traditional style illustrations with folk vibes, including decorative motifs and interesting compositions.
Author: اسدالله شعبانی / Asadollah Shabani Illustrator: علی بوذری / Ali Boozari ISBN: 978-622-6630-17-7, 2020
ماچوچه و کلاغ / Tippler And The Crow
“Tippler and the Crow” is an old Iranian folktale that teaches about being circumspect and thinking ahead of time, to avoid unintended consequences. Helping each other in times of need is another theme explored by the tale as no one should be left to deal with hardships alone.
Howling wind and the lashing rain destroy Auntie Rook’s house. Now that she and her chick have to find a place to stay, why not go to Tippler’s house which is built strong among the rocks where the wind and rain cannot harm it. But will Tippler let them stay and where would they sleep in Tippler’s house?
This book has been recognised and honoured with a variety of awards:
- Nominated for the Golden Pen of Belgrade
- Selected for the Asian Festival of Children’s Content
- Selected for the Biennial of Illustration in Bratislava
- Shortlisted for Little Hakka Picture Book international awards
- Winning book of the COW Design Biennial
- Winning book of the illustrators of the Future Contest
- Winning book of 2021 “Image of the Book” International Illustration and Book Design competition in Moscow
Author: افسانه شعباننژاد/Afsaneh Shabannejad Illustrator: محمدحسین ماتک / Mohammadhossein Matak ISBN: 978-622-6630-21-4, 2020
کچل تنبل و دیو پخمه / The Lazy Baldy and the Foolish Monster
“The Lazy Baldy and The Foolish Monster” is an old Iranian folktale that explores motivation and understanding of one’s true potential.
Baldy is a lazy boy who likes nothing more than staying home and eating food. His mother decides to make him go outside so that he would find something to do and make something out of himself. Baldy ends up in the castle of a beast whom he has to outsmart for survival. Would a lazy boy like him be able to do such a thing?
Author: محمدرضا شمس / Mohammadreza Shams Illustrator: فاطمه خسرویان / Fatemeh Khosravian ISBN: 978-622-6630-19-1, 2020
Other Tuti Picture Books
والک و رویای سفر / My Adventury Story (Little Whale’s Big Dream)
The ocean is huge and full of the whales’ songs. For Little Whale though, the ocean is getting smaller and smaller. She loves travelling to unknown lands and exploring new worlds. Little Whale journeys to a new world and so begins a thrilling adventure with a new friend. Little Whale bids farewell to the ocean and confronts beings and places that make her realize where she truly belongs. This is a story that reinforces self-acceptance and friendships.
“Little Whale’s Big Dream” was the winner of the 2020 International Illustration and Book Design Competition “Image of the Book” in Moscow. It was also nominated for the 2019 “Little Hakka” International Picture Book Award, a Chinese picture book contest open to entries from around the world.
Author and illustrator: سلیمه باباخان / Salimeh Babakhan ISBN: 978-622-6630-17-7, 2020
جادوی خواب / A Magical Sleep
“A Magical Sleep” is a wordless picture book that dives into the imaginative and creative world where ordinary objects become extraordinary.
It’s late in the evening and it’s time to sleep. What a pity… but wait! No one’s around, let’s play with the bedsheets! Hide in a jungle, beware the tiger, be careful not to drown in the lake!
A wordless and delightfully illustrated story that every young reader can relate to regardless of their reading comprehension abilities. This is a bedtime read that is guaranteed to entertain.
Author and illustrator: مهسا هدایتی / Mahsa Hedayati ISBN: 978-622-6630-73-3, 2021
آماده باش هلولا! / The Bogey In Mommy’s Tummy!
My God! There is a Bogey in Mother’s tummy. Does it eat everything that goes into Mum’s belly? I know it’s going to eat me as well! But I’m ready! I will put on my Zorro cape and call out: “Get Ready Bogey!”…
“The Bogey In Mommy’s Tummy” will help children cope with the fears and challenges of coming to terms with the arrival of a new sibling. It explores the anticipation from the point of view of a little child coming to grips with her mother’s pregnancy and how the siblings arrival would affect her life.
Author: سحر حدیقه / Sahar Hadigheh Illustrator: افسانه صانعی / Afsaneh Sanei ISBN: 978-622-7564-19-8, 2021
باور کنید من مرغ ماهیخوار نیستم! / Believe Me, I’m Not An Egret!
“Believe Me, I’m Not an Egret” is a retelling of a fable originally written in “Kalila and Demna” (the early Persian translation of Sanskrit Panchatantra – an ancient book with Indian roots).
In the original story, an old egret tricks the fish into thinking that they are being taken to a safe lake, but instead the fish becomes the egret’s food. One day, the crab also asks the egret to take him to the safe lake and sees the remaining fish bones while riding on his back. The crab returns to tell the others of the egret’s deceit.
This book is a retelling of the ancient fable, encouraging the children to question and critically think about what they are told.
Author: حسین قربانی / Hossein Ghorbani Illustrator: مهناز سلیماننژاد / Mahnaz Soleimannejad ISBN: 978-622-6630-60-3, 2021
عمو نوروز و پیرزن / Uncle Nowruz And The Old Lady
Uncle Nowruz wears a scarf and hat on the first day of spring. He comes to the city gate bringing with him the spring weather and nature’s beauty is flourishing after winter Northern Hemisphere, trees bloom and rivers flow. Everyone is waiting for Uncle Nowruz, especially the old woman who sets the Haft-sin table and waits, but will she see Nowruz?
Nowruz is the Iranian New Year / Persian New Year day. It begins on the spring equinox, marking the first day of Farvardin (the first month of the Iranian solar calendar). It falls on or around 21 March of the Western (Gregorian) calendar and has been celebrated for over 3000 years in Asia and the Balkans.
Haft-sin table is an arrangement of 7 symbolic items whose names start with the letter “س” pronounced as “seen”. It is traditionally displayed at Nowruz and may include wheat, barley, sprouts, wheat germ, sweet pudding, vinegar, apples and garlic. Sometimes coins are added as well as a mirror, candies, painted eggs and traditional Persian sweets.
“Uncle Nowruz And The Old Lady” is a brilliant book for all but particularly to expand the cultural knowledge of children learning Persian who is being brought up outside Iran. I have learned a great deal about Nawruz and its customs from just researching this book.
Author: اسدالله شعبانی / Asadollah Shabani Illustrator: حمادالدین جوادزاده / Hemadeddin Javadzadeh ISBN: 978-622-6630-23-8, 2020
جهان مال من است / The World Is Mine
Father and daughter head out of the house and embark on their most adventurous trip. They travel by car, ride bicycles, horses and camels, they board boats that take them to the end of the world. Along the way, they get disappointed, change their route, start again and learn that explorers never lose hope. They persevere and pursue their dream to get to the furthermost place in the world.
“The World is Mine” is about overcoming obstacles. It helps children, including those with disabilities, to appreciate that the power of imagination can defeat all limitations.
This book has been selected for the Biennale of Illustration in Bratislava for the Tallinn Design Festival Triennial. This book was also the winner of the 2020 International Illustration and Book Design Competition “Image of the Book” in Moscow.
Author: تهمینه حدادی / Tahmineh Haddadi Illustrator: هاله قربانی / Halo Ghorbani ISBN: 978-622-6630-78-8, 2021
چه فکر خوبی! / What a Brilliant Idea!
Cookie is unhappy with his “big” ears. He decides to wear a mask over his head to hide them. Everyone is amazed by his “brilliant idea” and decides to do the same. They’re all hiding something they dislike about themselves, yet no one is distinguishable anymore! This outcome makes Cookie ponder…
“What a Brilliant Idea!” is a story about self-esteem, self-image, and self-acceptance. It helps children to understand that no matter how they look, their differences are unique and beautiful.
This book was recognised and honoured with multiple awards:
- Winning book at the COW Design Biennale
- Shortlisted for Little Hakka Picture Book international awards
- Selected for the prestigious 2020 White Ravens catalogue by the International Youth Library (Jugendbibliotheck) in Munich, Germany
- Selected for the Asian Festival of Children’s Content
- Honourable mentioned at Flying Turtle Awards 4 times
The creator of this book Narjes Mohammadi, illustrator and founder of Brightness Magazine, fell in love with drawing at her grandparents’ house while growing up in Mashhad. Narjes works predominately in the medium of painting and illustrating. She has worked with publishers in various countries, including Canada, the United States, Italy, Spain, and Iran. Her illustrations have been selected in several exhibitions and festivals like Belgrade, Bologna, Illustrade, White Raven, Hiiibrand, Little Hakka and COW Design Biennale. Since 2009 Narjes has had solo shows and group exhibitions in Iran, Spain, Italy, Brazil, Germany, Ukraine, South Korea, China and Japan.
Author and illustrator: نرجس محمدی / Narjes Mohammadi Hardcover ISBN: 978-622-6630-09-2, 2020 Soft cover ISBN: 978-622-6630-10-8, 2021
پسری که جادویی شد / The Boy Who Went Magic (novel)
They say magic is long-gone … but is it?
A chain of fantastical mishaps in schoolboy Bert’s dull life spiral out of control – but then he’s rescued by Finch, a plucky girl-adventurer with metal legs. Soon they’d be sailing through the clouds on a pirate airship bound for the forgotten land of Ferenor. Magic is their destination, for reasons Bert will soon discover.
A rip-roaring fantasy adventure of friendship, courage and discovery. Kirkus review summed it up beautifully: “Debut author Winter moves the characters somewhat breathlessly from one dramatic moment to the next while carefully reserving a few surprises about Bert’s relationships that add poignancy and depth to the narrative as they are revealed. Cinematic action scenes include a fight atop a train being lifted by cables up a mountain and a battle between airships along with some swordplay and hand-to-hand combat. A reanimated army of creepy skeletons in the shell of a wrecked airship ups the spooky element. A quick and absorbing combination of swashbuckling, steampunk, and supernatural mystery.”
Author: اِی. پی. وینتر / A.P. Winter; Translator:بهرنگ موجانی / Behrang Mojani; ISBN: 978-622-6630-70-2; 2021
صهی یک سال مزخرف / Ebb and Flow
This is a Persian translation of the book penned by the American writer Heather Smith and originally published in English.
If there’s one thing Jett has learned over the past year, it’s that fresh starts aren’t all they’re cracked up to be. After a “rotten bad year” in a new town, at a new school, Jett returns to the coast to spend the summer with his Grandma Jo, hoping to forget.
But Jett carries a secret with him. As the summer unfolds, he finds himself examining memories of his past like bits of sea glass—arranging and rearranging them to make sense of his mistakes.
Told in free verse, this captivating story of betrayal and forgiveness will pull readers in . . . and not easily let them go.
"As we pulled up to the little wooden house on the rocky eastern shore my heart went crazy, pounding, like the crashing waves I could hear in the distance. I was so happy to be back, I almost forgot I was there to forget."
This is a multi-award winning book that has been recognised in the following ways:
- Winner of the 2019 TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award
- Nominated for the 2020 MYRCA Award
- Winner of the 2018 BMO Winterset Award
- Shortlisted for the 2018 Governor General’s Literary Award
- USBBY Outstanding International Book Selection 2019
- Shortlisted for the 2019 Silver Birch Award
Author: هتر اسمیت / Heather Smith Translator: کیوان عبیدی آشتیانی / Keyvan Obaidi Ashtiani ISBN: 978-622-6630-36-8, 2019
Books by Other Publishers
اتل و مثل و كوتوله / Rhyming stories “Ethel, Motel and Dwarf” (poetry)
This rhyming story is about three friends named Ethel, Motel and Dwarf. It includes language games that can keep children busy for hours. Listening to poetry and reading poetry helps develop children’s musical faculties and strengthens their verbal skills and intelligence.
In this story, the Dwarf gets stuck in a pipe and the others try to help him. In addition to language games, it makes use of Persian proverbs. The delicately detailed illustrations by Saeedeh Ahmadi are a joy to the eye!
Author: طاهره ایبد / Taheren Aibod Illustrator: سعیده احمدی / Saeedeh Ahmadi Publisher: کانون پرورش فکری کودکان و نوجوان /Children and Adolescents Intellectual Development Center ISBN: 9786000109387, 2021
پیونگیانگ؛ سفری به کرهی شمالی / Pyongyang. A journey in North Korea (comics)
Famously referred to as part of the ‘Axis-of-Evil’, North Korea remains one of the most secretive and mysterious nations in the world today. A series of manmade and natural catastrophes have also left it one of the poorest. The Canadian Québécois author and cartoonist Guy Delisle found himself in the capital of North Korea, Pyongyang, on a work visa for a French film animation company. He became one of the few westerners to witness current conditions in the surreal showcase city.
This is a black-and-white graphic novel originally published in English in 2004.
This book was meant to form a basis for a film script based on the author’s experiences. The pre-production work started but had to be cancelled due to alleged threats from the hackers found to be linked to North Korea and threatening the creators of another film on a similar subject of exposing its harsh realities.
This comic-strip book and its graphic style might appeal to high school students or adolescents and adults who study or are generally interested in modern history. Given that honest journalism about North Korea is scarce, researching the contemporary realities would be quite challenging.
Author and illustrator: ی دولیل / Guy Delisle Translator: عاطفه احمدی/ Atefeh Ahmadi Publisher: Publish Around ISBN: 9786226194051, 2020
I am *absolutely* flabbergasted!!! This is not a post, this is doctoral research!! How much time did it take you to compile this brilliant compendium??? This must be the most comprehensive collection of current Iranian illustrated books – I would bet that there is nothing as comprehensive as this published in Farsi. Truly magisterial. It should be published as a booklet, and made available not only in that Sydney bookshop, but on Amazon too, so that Iranian expats in Europe and North America could read it too – it’s an absolutely essential resource for parents!
You are always music to my ears! Yes, this *has* taken time. But I often forget the time doing it. I absolutely hope for the blog post to be exactly what you suggest – a good resource for the parents or teachers who are looking for an easy one-stop shop list of from which to choose. Thanks for you engagement with and support of this blog and for this great feedback!
And the illustrations are simply magnificent. I kept trying to pick my favourite three illustrators, and I gave up, as it was impossible to choose! ??
Iranian illustrators are amazing aren’t they. I knew it before I embarked on this piece of work… Onto Arabic and Chinese lists next. Stay tuned!