For millions of Iranians and other Persian speakers who have come to live in the West, Nowruz is perhaps the most evocative reminder of their homeland. They celebrate their New Year with elaborate ceremonies to keep in touch with their roots and to keep the tradition alive for their children.
Mehrzad and Shahrzad Karimabadi, two Iranian sister, who live in the United States have just published a series of books in English for children, “Shireen and Nousheen” with stories illustrating Nowruz and the festivities around it.
Shireen and Nousheen, the main characters in Firework Wednesday Charshanbé Souri, Celebrating Nowruz and Get Away 13th Sizdé Bédar, are based on Shahrzad Karimabadi’s own daughters.
The challenges of teaching cultural traditions to her children living in the US, was the main idea and motivation or Shahrzad to initiate this project: “I have always taught Iranian culture to my oldest daughter Shireen through paintings, one of her favourite activities. She is also very interested in reading and likes to learn through books. Once, her teacher asked me to introduce a book to them about the Persian New Year, but I was unable to find what I was looking for. At that point I was motivated to illustrate a series of stories related to Nowruz, first for my daughter and then for other children”.
Karimabadi sisters, through their experiences in writing, illustration, and graphic design created these colourful books. Mehrzad Karimabadi says: “the target audience of these books are mainly children between the ages of two and twelve who grow up with two cultures. The text and storyline and the bright illustrations grab the younger kids’ attention while the facts such as historic aspects and symbolism of Nowruz can be more interesting for the older children. Our aim was to publish these books with high standards in terms of typography, illustration, cover design and page layouts”.
Mehrzad and Shahrzad Karimabadi, the authors of Shireen and Nousheen children’s books are both art school graduates. Mehrzad’s focus is photography, writing and graphic design, and Shahrzad’s is mainly illustration, painting and photography.
Karimabadi sisters have plans to introduce more aspects of the Iranian customs and traditions through the characters of little Shireen and Nousheen.
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