Chelsea Library were delighted to welcome Wafa Tarnowska to the newly refurbished children’s library on Saturday 29 June.
Wafa was entranced by both the library and the welcome she received. She was here to read from her new translation of some of the stories from The Arabian Nights. The children themselves sat entranced as Wafa took them on a magic carpet ride to the Orient.
After a short introduction as to the origins of the stories, how they were collected from many countries, the life or death reason for their telling and of the first european translation into french three hundred years ago.Were there really one thousand and one tales?
Wafa, with much expression, began – our journey focused on the strong women characters which her own grandmother in the Lebanon had told her about.
We took off with ‘The Diamond Anklet’, which had echoes of the western fable ‘Cinderella’, the children were attentive with the promise of a follow-up quiz offering a large edition of her book as a prize for the winner.
The magic of eastern promise thrilled our listeners. A skilled story-teller she weaved in history and the traditional into the magic. She explained to the children Arabic words such as jjinn which is here translated as genie, at the same time keeping pace with the tale.
The children, and grown ups, wanted more, and Wafa weaved straight into the follow-up tale , which gives an unexpected twist to the traditional western fairy tale. The quiz worked well and Wafa was able to go amongst the children and explain and help them with the questions.
A winner was declared but everyone left feeling they had won a moment away from London – a trip through the window and into a land a thousand and one nights away.