Sharjah Children’s Book Festival 2016

As this year comes to a close, I’m grateful for many marvelous adventures and the beautiful, kind souls that shared my journey through 2016, and what a journey it was!

One thing that I will never forget is the generous, and warmest hospitality that Miss Quarrat and the Sharjah Children’s Book Festival, and host schools, extended to me in the United Arab Emirates in April. img_4915Here I am getting on my flight from JFK to Dubai. The Sharjah Book Festival flew me Business Class on Emirates. I hate long flights, but this flight wasn’t long enough!

img_4957My first driver and car upon arrival in Dubai. Little did I know that I would have a fleet of fancy cars and handsome drivers at my disposal every day!

img_5040Opening ceremonies with members of the royal family.

img_5061A place for interviews. They were so well-organized!

A small corner of the exhibition hall:img_5358

I visited schools in Dubai. Here I am at GEMS, Our Own English School for Girls, speaking to the high school students:

img_5542I had a very enthusiastic audience!

img_5171And here I am at the GEMS, Our Own English School for boys, presenting to the primary grades.

When I finished, the boys gave me this: img_5172Yes, I work for flowers! Always! THANK YOU, Boys!!!

Another day, I presented to Indian International School:img_5429The students were very enthusiastic readers, and wonderful listeners. img_5547At the end, their principal presented me with a lovely award, and a lovingly made collage, both of which I brought home, across two continents and an ocean. THANK YOU, Girls!!!

img_5431Here I am with the younger students. They wore a different uniform from their older schoolmates. I like the plaid! Many of them are now following me on Instagram, and it’s been fun to follow them too! Thank you for being so inspiring!!!

In between school visits, I spoke at the conference. Here I am being interviewed in Arabic!

img_5549I was holding my earphones and listening very intently to the simultaneous translation into English. No one else needed it! Then when I spoke, I could hear the Arabic translation. It was very cool!

I was taken to many special events, and treated like a beloved family member.

img_5200img_5187img_5206

img_5265In the Arabian Desert with my new friend, Alison McGee and Miss Camel. img_5274img_5290img_5313We rode the dunes in four-wheel drives, I sand-surfed on a snowboard, watched a whirling dervish mystic perform in the desert, and held this beautiful falcon. She was fairly heavy, I had to use both hands!

The Sharjah Library, set for a special dinner . . .

img_5364for children’s authors from around the world: img_5377

img_5110The HCA, Home for Children’s Authors, overlooking the Persian Gulf. IMG_5363.JPG

I really loved it here, where children’s authors are rock stars and providing good books is a national obsession.

img_5550THANK YOU, Miss Qurrat, and the Sharjah Book Festival, for inviting me to the MOST AMAZING children’s book festival in the world!!! I met so many extraordinary, inspiring people. I am so grateful. Please invite me back!!! P.S. If you look closely, you can see that Alison and I got badass henna tattoos. Arabic lessons are next!img_5238Did you know that you can tell where someone is from by the way they tie their scarf? Here I am distinctly tied as a native of . . . . (hit reply with your answer!).

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