Most of the books we publish at Barefoot are developed in house, but every now and then I find one on another publisher’s programme and think ‘This is a Barefoot story!’ I came across The Girl with a Brave Heart last year, at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair. It had been published in Hebrew by Kinneret Zmora-Bitan Publishing and luckily for me, no-one had snapped up the English language rights.

Not speaking Hebrew, what first attracted me to the book was the quality of the illustrations. I admire Raoul Dufy’s work and Vali Mintzi’s illustrations transported me in the same way that his art does. Although I haven’t visited Tehran, I have been lucky enough to spend some time in several Middle Eastern countries and for me, these illustrations captured the character of this part of the world in a convincing and colourful way. And then I asked for a translation and read the story…  To me, it is a story not just for our times but for all time. Of course, the setting in Tehran gives it a particular quality and meets a need I often hear of for more tales from the Middle East. But, like all good folk tales, the story speaks of the human predicament in a way that is both particular and universal. Its central themes are the power of kindness and the importance of not judging from appearances. To me, it feels important to think of kindness as an aspect of courage. The girl who is the main character is not fazed by the angry and destructive attitude of the strange old woman she meets. Instead of listening to what her words are saying, she tunes in to what her heart is saying, and acts on this. This is a story that lifts my spirit whenever I read it – and somehow, it makes the washing up easier too!

The Girl with a Brave Heart by Rita Jahanforuz, illustrated by Vali Mintzi, is available now: US Shoppers / UK Shoppers

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Join the conversation! Add your comments below.