Good pitted against evil; despair and triumph; history and honour. These are the prominent themes running through the latest book by renowned children’s books’ author Mohammed Ali.
Victory over Abu Derya, which was launched yesterday at the Museum of Islamic Art, is a compelling story about a seaside village’s quest to wrench precious pearls lodged at the bottom of the sea from Abu Derya, the malevolent sea lord.
While Derya remains tight-fisted, the residents of Qumasha village devise ways to get the pearls, and ultimately win.
The book also delves into the challenges faced by the legendary pearl divers of the Arabian Gulf.
Speaking to The Peninsula at the foyer of the Museum, Ali explained: “When I sat down to do this story, it was important that I narrate history in an educative way; specifically the history of the pearls and at the same time consider the myths of the time; all in interesting prose”.
The book, which took the author two months to write and illustrate, appears in both English and Arabic and was penned in collaboration with Bloomsbury Qatar Foundation and the Museum of Islamic Art. Its launch coincides with the Pearl Exhibition currently running at the museum.
Tens of school children attended the event and had their copies of the book signed, and also got the opportunity to get photographed with the author and discuss writing with him.
With close to 40 years in the industry and over eight books in the market, Ali is considered the foremost author and illustrator of children’s books in Qatar. “I have been involved in various literary and art projects over the years. It’s something I enjoy doing. Certainly, it’s different with children because you have to remain relevant yet entertaining” the author explained. In addition, he also works as an art supervisor at Souq Waqif.
With more children’s projects in the works, Ali sees potential in the market. “Over the last few years, there has been a revolution in the education sector, and now a healthy reading culture is being inculcated in children”, he said as he autographed copies of his book. “It’s important that this is sustained, and it must include the telling of history”.
Hala Al Khalifa, Head of the Museum of Islamic Art’s Education Center, said: “We are very excited to be part of this project, encouraging our children to read, learn and be part of a history that should not be forgotten.”
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