“The Greedy Sparrow: An Armenian Tale” has won the 2013 Nautilus Silver Book Award in the Children’s Picture Book category (readers 3 to 6 yrs.). The tale is retold by Lucine Kasbarian, illustrated by Maria Zaikina, and published by Marshall Cavendish (now Amazon Children’s Books).
“The Greedy Sparrow” is an English-language retelling of a traditional Armenian folk tale about a bird who travels the countryside, encounters natives practicing traditional folkways, and gets a comeuppance for his trickery. Author Kasbarian and illustrator Zaikina convey ethnic authenticity in their adaptation of this tale from the Armenian oral tradition. The NJ and MA-based Kasbarian is a children’s author known for her book, “Armenia: A Rugged Land, an Enduring People,” Moscow-based Zaikina is an illustrator beloved for her companion animation to singer Hasmik Harutyunyan’s folk lullaby, Agna Oror.
“Witnessing near-annihilation and exile as a result of the Armenian Genocide,” said Kasbarian, “my surviving grandparents felt that our people might one day become extinct. From that grew a profound desire to preserve as much of our culture as possible, such as our language, songs, dances, cuisine and stories. While her infant children perished in the death marches, my paternal grandmother managed to smuggle out the deeds belonging to our family’s confiscated property.
Those were the only material possessions that made it to America. Thus, non-material possessions, such as what was carried in memories, become precious links to our identity and past. “The Greedy Sparrow” tale was one such heirloom, and UNESCO calls such treasures part of a people’s “intangible cultural heritage.”
“The Greedy Sparrow” was also named a 2012 Honor Book in the Storytelling World Awards. It was in School Library Journal’s “Fuse #8 Production” blog’s “100 Magnificent Children’s Books of 2011” and in the Children’s Literature Network’s “Snipp Snapp Snute” blog’s “Favorite Folktales published in 2011.”
The Nautilus Awards recognize books that promote positive social change, spiritual development and conscious living as they stimulate the imagination and inspire the reader to new possibilities for a better world. Usually, one Gold and one or more Silver awards are given annually in each of 24 Adult and 4 Children’s/Young Adult categories. Formal announcements about all Nautilus Award winners will be made in at BookExpo America (May 30-June 1) in New York City: