Hamda and Fisaikra
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This issue’s cover illustration by Catherine Rayner is from Solomon Crocodile. Catherine Rayner is interviewed on p.14 of this issue. Thanks to Macmillan Children's Books for their help with this May cover.
By clicking here you can view, print or download the fully artworked Digital Edition of BfK 194 May 2012 .
A variant of the Cinderella story, Hamda and Fisaikra is the version known in the Arabian Gulf. Hamda’s father, a fisherman, sets out in his boat each day to cast his net. At the end of the day Hamda waits for him on the shore and helps to carry the fish to the house. Hamda’s mother died when she was young and she now has an unkind stepmother and two stepsisters.
One day Hamda’s stepmother sends her to clean the catch but one of the fish, the Fisaikra, is not dead and he begs Hamda to return him to the sea. Although she is afraid her stepmother will punish her, Hamda’s heart melts and she releases the fish. From then on Fisaikra protects Hamda and when an invitation arrives from the Shaikh’s palace and Hamda is left at home, it is Fisaikra who ensures that she has a beautiful gown, jewels and, of course, a pair of golden slippers to wear at the party, one of which she loses on her way home…
In this, her first children’s book, Kaltham Al-Ghanim’s interest in folklore is evident in the cadences of her engaging narrative which is full of the rich detail (the Tanoor oven, henna decorations, clothing and food) of life in the Arabian Gulf. This is also illustrator May Al-Mannai’s first book and her stylised, richly patterned illustrations which incorporate collage make confident use of the page. A beautiful production. Also available in Arabic.