The woman behind the illustrations may seem sweet and friendly, but Thuraya Batterjee’s children’s books’ wrestle with some pretty controversial issues. Make no mistake, Kadi and Ramadi is no ordinary publishing house – they publish with purpose. “We try to tackle issues sensitive in society,” initiates Thuraya. Breast cancer, Attention Deﬁcit Disorder (ADD), and an upcoming book on autism are all part of a series of books to open a dialogue and educate children, and parents alike, about issues affecting our society. Through playful watercolors and soft hues, this medical awareness series, entitled Ghaith Al Hakeem, are the ﬁrst of its kind in Arabic in the Kingdom for children.
Many in the Middle Eastern publishing community believe Thuraya’s children’s literature breaks stereotypes in the market and offer something otherwise unavailable. Upon being the only Saudi woman selected and sponsored by the International Young Publishers Entrepreneurs organization, IYPE, under the auspices of the British Council and the London Book Fair (LBF), to attend and participate in the LBF in April 2008 – where her Eid book, It Is For You Eid!, won best book – the Mohamed Bin Rashid Al Mokhtoum Foundation offered to sponsor 10 of Thuraya’s future publications.
Sparking controversy with You Will Be Alright, the book takes the reader on a vicarious journey of a 9 year-old girl’s struggle with her Mother’s battle with breast cancer. Illustrated by Thuraya, the unﬁltered words of a young girl about her famous Mother, Dr. Samiah Al-Amoudi, describe the sadness and difﬁculty that accompany illness.
Tantara, which is a traditional embroidered pattern, is a book about traditional Saudi patterns, thobes, and architecture from speciﬁc regions. This is the ﬁrst such book of its kind in Saudi Arabia so everything was meticulously researched. Even the Saudi Ministry of Culture & Information has taken notice of their work and commissioned Kadi & Ramadi to produce a Directory of Saudi Writers & Illustrations in Children’s Books; as a resource for publishers, authors and teachers, the exhaustive text documents every children’s book to date in the Kingdom, beginning with the pioneers in the ﬁeld up to the more contemporary books.
Yet, even though this index is perhaps more likely to be used by adults then by children, the opportunity to share insight into our culture is never overlooked; the front cover portrays characters from around the Kingdom in their regional garments, while traditional patterns adorn a vertical panel next to the spine.
Thuraya is a multifaceted businesswoman with her expertise ranging from illustration, to publishing and content. Every book idea is thoughtfully discussed with experts in the speciﬁc ﬁeld, thoroughly researched, and creatively produced.
It Is For You Eid! gives children a new spin on the festive holiday.
A colorful box unlocks a world of New Year activities and surprises, which includes a children’s book all about Eid, a CD with fun songs, an Eid banner, stickers and Eid cards. «The idea is to revive the excitement of Eid through active learning.
Upon opening the package children can read the story with their parents,
play with the stickers, hang the banner, and then write the greeting cards to the family they will visit that day, while listening to the CD,» Thuraya enthuses. With every book we try to teach something about the region, the culture and the country.”
My Balloon That Flew, conveys deep messages about loss and appreciation through a little girls experience with her balloons. Scenery from the Asir region enlivens the background, with rolling green hills, organic spherical architecture, and traditional thobes that adorn the characters. It is through the young girls’ loss that the beauty of nature reveals itself along with a new appreciation for the people around her, which she may not have experienced without such loss. Literature and graphics integrate beautifully to make this little girls’ journey come alive. Thuraya emphasizes that our children need to see themselves in the books they read
discovering that the best way to bring out the love for literature in young readers is to talk about issues they can relate to through illustration.
The literature of Kadi & Ramadi are more than just culturally enlightening for your little ones, they may in fact be quite informative for you too.