By Majd Othman
KUWAIT: Writing poetic stories requires a talent that differs from traditional writing, especially if it is directed to children. Since children have a stronger sense and intelligence that is different from adults, they are faster in absorbing and accepting those ideas. Therefore, Kuwaiti young writer Noorah Jamal Al-Ibraheem decided to use her talent in writing poetic stories to convey humanitarian issues and present them to children in an interesting way that motivates them to think and see new aspects of the world.
‘If Stars could Talk’ is a story series recently launched by Ibraheem, who is 27 years old and a mother. The main idea revolves around one point, that if the stars could talk, they would be witnesses to what is happening in the world. The first story in the series was about the issue of Palestine, while the writer named the main character of the story ‘Aqsa’, which symbolizes Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, Palestine. Kuwait Times met Ibraheem and talked more about the kids’ story series.
Kuwait Times: Where did you get your inspiration to write the first story of the series from?
Noorah Al-Ibraheem: I got my inspiration after I met my friend ‘Aqsa’. In that time, I felt that this name commensurate with the goal of the story, especially that I wanted to be away from using usual names in the story. This name is a message that we do not recognize the existence of the Zionist entity, in addition to the fact that the name is consistent with the intent of the story.
Through the story, I tried to focus on the symbols that indicate the solidity and stability of the Palestinian cause. I liked to plant the Palestinian flag in the minds of children, so I used the colors of the Palestinian flag in describing the nature and plants, such as describing the color of roses as red, white and green, and birds as black.
KT: Which age group does the story series target?
Ibraheem: This series is directed to ages starting from 4 years and above. The poetic formula in writing the story because the use of a certain wording for children contributes to capturing and memorizing the topic more. Meanwhile, I focused on making the story not too long and not too short to better communicate the idea.
KT: How did you see the reactions to the idea of a story?
Ibraheem: People’s reactions made me very proud of myself and very happy, because it was more than I expected. Even though the issue of Palestine was raised since childhood and we grew up with it, there are no stories and references for children that explain it in a simple way, especially since it is a complex issue and contains many details developed over the years. So, I made sure in the story to simplify the issue in a way that suits children. I was happy with one feedback I got from a reader; a 9-year-old girl who commented when she finished reading the story saying that she does not want the story to end. I saw a great interest from the Kuwaiti and Arab people, and even some people from countries abroad who received the story series, because they are always looking for stories that discuss important issues that are not often found in libraries.
KT: What is your goal in focusing on the colors of the Palestinian flag while describing the nature in the story?
Ibraheem: I aim to imprint a mental image in the minds of our children about Palestinian symbols and the importance of persistence in defending the Palestinian cause. That’s the reason I started this series of stories taking about the Palestine issue and the importance of defending Al-Aqsa Mosque. As a Kuwaiti, it is also a part of the consistent humanitarian position of my state, Kuwait, towards the Palestinian cause. Kuwait is always on the side of truth, which I am very proud of, and Kuwait has provided me with the strength to contribute and support the cause of Al-Aqsa.
KT: Will the story series only talk about the Palestinian issue, or are there other issues that you will talk about in your next publications?
Ibraheem: I seek to increase the issues further. The goal of the series is to instill Islamic values and principles in our children’s souls and minds, and I am keen to talk about the Arab common issues and topics that are important to us as Arabs and Muslims. The issue of Jerusalem is one of the most important issues that I have started with.
KT: Is there a common theme between stories?
Ibraheem: The main theme of the series is that there is a star that revolves around the earth and sees the events that happen in all countries of the world, and conveys to children Islamic and Arab issues in a poetic way, and the beginning was from the land of Palestine.
KT: Is the series published in English only?
Ibraheem: It is currently published in English in a poetic style that reaches children in a simple way, and I also want it to be a global message because today, we notice the influence of the West on our children. As a mother, I do not want those ideas to control our children, and this book is a symbol of confronting those ideas and influences. Therefore, I am working on preparing a copy in Arabic, especially since Arabic stories are in great demand because they have become few in the market and are repetitive in their ideas such as teaching letters, numbers, animals and others. As for the older ages, I did not find a story that balances between all ages, and this is what I tried to implement in this series.
KT: When did you start to love writing poetic stories?
Ibraheem: Since I was young, I started writing poetry stories, and with the encouragement of my mother, I was going to publish my first poetic story when I was in middle school, but unfortunately it was stolen from me in school. As a result of that, the passion inside of me stopped for a while and made me frustrated to return to writing. But when I grew up and had the opportunity to write articles in Al-Moasher Economic newspaper, this was for me a revival of my hope to write again, especially since my first article was about liberating Al-Aqsa.
KT: What made you transfer from writing in economics to children’s stories?
Ibraheem: I became a mother. I am keen to push mothers in Kuwait to encourage their children to read, because this will benefit children to form their own personality. Therefore, I wanted to instill the love of reading in my son and other kids, and since I have the talent to write poetic stories and have a specific message, I decided to write stories to people of the Arab and Islamic world.
Noorah Jamal Al-Ibraheem holds a master’s degree in civil engineering. She received her higher education in Britain. Before that, she received her school education between Kuwait and Canada, where she practiced the English language, admired the educational methods abroad and sought to transfer those methods through story writing.