Who was Notaila Rashed? The Egyptian children's author behind today's Google Doodle

Google has paid tribute to the pioneering author on what would have been her 86th birthday, with a Doodle created by Jordanian-American artist Sara Alfageeh

Notaila Rashed has been honoured with a special Google Doodle to mark her 86th birthday. Google
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Egyptian children's author Notaila Rashed has been honoured with a special Google Doodle on the search engine's home page on Sunday.

The Doodle, illustrated by Jordanian-American guest artist Sara Alfageeh, marks what would have been Rashed's 86th birthday. The illustration can only be viewed by those in parts of the Middle East and North Africa.

Rashed was a pioneering children's author who devoted her life to the creation and promotion of children's literature in the Arab world. Known affectionately as "Mama Loubna", she penned dozens of books loved by children and adults alike, aiming to highlight ancient Egyptian literary traditions while showcasing the rich cultural heritage of contemporary life in the country.

She was born on September 20, 1934, in Cairo. She studied at Cairo University, where she wrote her first five children's stories. In the late 1950s, she helped to create the groundbreaking educational magazine for children, Samir, later going on to oversee the publication as editor-in-chief.

Rashed wrote and translated numerous children's stories throughout her career, and worked with a number of Arabic television and radio shows, as well as youth magazines. Her most famous work, the two-part book The Diary of Yasser Family, published in 1979, was the inspiration for the first children's film created by the Egyptian National Council of Culture.

Besides her work as an author, Rashed has also translated children's classics into Arabic, including The Emperor's New Clothes, The Happy Prince and Black Beauty.

Rashed received a variety of awards in honour of her contributions to Egyptian literature and society, including the State Award for Children’s Literature in 1978, the State Award for Children’s Journalism in 1995 and the Medal of the Council of the Ministry of Culture in 2002.

Speaking of creating the Google Doodle, Alfageeh said: “I’m an Arab-American Illustrator and comic artist, who particularly focuses on children’s literature and young adult work. Getting to research Notaila and learn how hard she worked to keep art and reading accessible to every kind of child deeply resonated with me.

“She made sure her magazines and comics could reach the hands of any kid by keeping costs low. In her stories, she never talked down to children and just provided moral lessons, she encouraged readers to come to their own conclusions. She was an incredible woman, and it was an honour to illustrate her.”

Rashed died on May 26, 2012.