First-place winner Mariana Alcantara Pedraza (left) with Ahmed bin Rakkad Al Ameri, Chairman of Sharjah Book Authority, at the awards ceremony Image Credit: Supplied

Sharjah: Mexican artist Mariana Alcantara Pedraza has beat global competition to scoop top honour and $8,000 first place prize at the 11th annual Sharjah Children’s Book Illustration Award with her artwork for the book ‘My Little Bird’.

Pedraza’s entry competed against 1,300 artworks by 280 artists from 46 countries.

The winners of the award were announced on the opening day of the 14th annual edition of the Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival (SCRF 2023) on Wednesday. Ahmed bin Rakkad Al Ameri, Chairman of Sharjah Book Authority (SBA) honoured the top three winners alongside three more artists who received appreciation prizes for their talent.

For its 11th edition, the winners were selected from amongst 235 shortlisted works by 85 illustrators from around the world.


Syrian artist Lena Naddaf secured the second place prize of $6,000 in the competition for her illustrations in ‘The Puzzle of the Lost City’.

Iranian artist Majid Zakeri Younesi is the second runner-up, winning $ 4,000, owing to his illustrations in the story titled ‘Mahteti’.

Appreciation awards

Three other artists received encouragement awards, valued at $1,000 each. Baraa Al Aawour from Palestine was selected for her creative illustrations that brought together many imaginary creatures to spread joy in the world and instil positive feelings in children; Maria Catalina Vasquez from Chile for her work that recalls childhood and simulates old memories, and Ecuadorian artist Maria Estefania Santos Gallegos who received the Award for her distinguished digital work that blends the worlds of reality and myth.

Through the Award, SBA encourages specialised artists in children’s book illustrations to develop high-quality content and illustrations that appeal to the younger generations and instil the love of reading in them as a daily habit.

The jury

The jury for this edition featured renowned Emirati artist and sculptor Abdulrahim Salem, Egyptian artist Hani Salah, American artist and author Andrea D’Aquino, Spanish artist Zuriñe Aguirre, and German artist Vitali Konstantinov.

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Book Award

Additionally, SCRF announced the winners of the 14th Sharjah Children’s Book Award.

A Tale of Two Colours by Abdullah Mohammed Al-Sharhan, published by Dar Ajyal, was announced the winner of the Arabic Children’s Book (4-12 years) category. The Arabic Young Adult book (13-17 years) category was awarded to My Digital Grandmother by Ahmed Qarni, and published by Shaan Publishing and Distribution, while the International Children’s book (7-13 years) category was awarded to the title Incredible History by DK, and published by DK Publishing.