I'm Koloud Fawzi Omar Abdul Aziz Tarapolsi a Libyan American, and I am thrilled to be joining the Children's Book Academy team. I am by day a multicultural blogger at ACraftyArab.com, sharing free children resources with parents & caregivers about the Arab world and Muslim culture.
Around nine years ago, I became an Arabic storyteller for my local library, sharing many of the books I list on my blog with my library patrons twice a month. But the choice of books was very limiting. Since I give adult museums and culinary tours to Morocco, I am able to pick up Arabic books in my travels, but I am not able to easily share these resources with my patrons and it has always been a frustration.
Two events happened in 2019 that made me decide to write picture books, the first occurred when I saw Ilhan Omar at a fundraiser. I was amazed at the number of parents that had brought their children to see her and wished there was a book about her that I could share with mine. I left the event feeling inspired, yet my hands were empty with the educational tools I could have used to share my own daughter about her journey. The second event occurred shortly after when I visited the Eric Carle Picture Book Museum. My daughter was attending a music retreat at a nearby college and I spent several days in the museum library. I should mention that I've been a museum educator for over 25 years and have a special badge that allows me special access to such rooms. For four days I looked for someone in the picture books that looked like me. In an entire museum devoted to educating children, I was missing. After I had a good bathroom cry, I decided I was going to be the change. I was going to put an Ilhan Omar picture book in that museum. I set my intentions on becoming the first Libyan American author that finally entered American classrooms and libraries.
I started with researching her life (remember, this was well before Ms. Omar wrote her own memoir), and of course, learning how to write a picture book. My Master's in Islamic studies had laid the foundation in teaching me how to research and I traveled to the Smithsonian African American Museum to find more. Along the way, I wrote other picture book manuscripts, a few funny, and a few lyrical, historical nonfiction books about Arab artists that are missing from women artists' book collections.
But it was finding CBA that changed my writing style for the better. I was very fortunate to hear about this amazing e-course from Twitter and applied for the Yuyi Morales scholarship. I sent in a sample of a funny story I had written about an alien who lands on a chickpea farm. Now after the course, I have more completed manuscripts that I've been sending out to publishers and agents. I am excited to report that I have a few interests and I know for a fact that it was all because of CBA. Why? I had been sending out my Ilhan Omar manuscript for a year and had zero responses.
I can't wait to share more of my writing journey with you on the CBA blog, as well as sharing book lists that celebrate diverse kids having every day adventures like eating hot dogs, playing in the snow, getting their photo taken and visiting a mosque.
Shukran for reading my words,
Koloud Trapolsi is a recent recipient of a 2021 Children’s Book Academy Yuyi Morales Scholarship and now crafts lyrical, silly adventures of Arab contemporary life. She has completed six picture book manuscripts and one craft tutorial book. The 75 recycled Ramadan craft projects are all original content from her blog ACraftyArab.com, where she offers free resources to parents and caregivers about the Arab world & Muslim culture. Koloud currently teaches art education as an artist in resident at stunning Pacific Northwest locations. Join her on her next museum and culinary tour through the Moroccan landscape, stopping at 5 cities along the way to rest, cook and learn.
We are so excited to be mixing things up at CBA, beginning with some delicious additions to the Blogfish. Meet our awesome new bloggers!!
Here's our lineup:
1st Mondays begin with Clear Fork/Spork editor/art director, former agent and former kidlit professor Mira Reisberg PhD who is also the Director of the Children's Book Academy.
2nd Mondays will feature super smart Melissa Stoller whose career is taking off with several new books.
3rd Mondays will feature Bryan Patrick Avery, published writer, man of mystery, and professional magician among other things.
4th Mondays feature funny Aussie author Sharon Giltrow sharing awesome Aussie books.
And 5th Mondays will feature Libyan American author Koloud Tarapolsi sharing wonderful diverse books.