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Penguin Young Readers Group Acquires Middle Grade Novel by Filmmaker Haifaa al Mansour

Wadjda scheduled for publication in Fall 2015.

NEW YORK, NY — Haifaa al Mansour, Saudi Arabia’s first female film maker, will publish a middle grade adaptation of her feature film debut Wadjda with Dial, an imprint of Penguin Young Readers Group. Wadjda won Best International Feature at the Los Angeles Film Festival and was nominated for Best First Feature in the Film Independent Spirit Awards and Best Foreign Film at the British Academy of Film and Television Arts Awards.  Wadjda tells the story of an 11-year-old girl growing up in the suburbs of Riyadh, who dreams of owning and riding a green bicycle. The deal for North American rights was brokered by Amy Berkower of Writers House and Lauri Hornik, President and Publisher, Dial Books for Young Readers. Namrata Tripathi, Editorial Director, Dial Books for Young Readers will edit the novel, which is scheduled for publication in fall 2015.

When Wadjda sees a green bicycle at the store, she knows she has to have it. But girls are not supposed to ride bicycles in the Saudi Arabian suburb, and her mother refuses to buy it for her. Wadjda decides to take matters into her own hands: she enters the school’s Koran recitation competition with a scheme to use the big cash prize as payment for the bike. The competition is going to be tough, but this determined young girl is not going to take no for an answer.

Namrata Tripathi said “This story will give readers a glimpse into a world they don’t often get to encounter. I know they will fall in love with the character of Wadjda, who is fiercely determined and universally appealing. This is one of those stories that opens eyes and touches hearts. I’m so thrilled that we’ll be bringing Haifaa’s work to a broader audience.”

Haifaa al Mansour commented “I am so excited to join forces with Penguin to share my story of Wadjda as a book. I hope it inspires readers, both young and old, to believe in themselves and never give up, no matter where they come from or what the circumstances are.   Although Saudi Arabia can be a difficult place for a young girl like Wadjda, her story is a hopeful one.  I believe the story will resonate with readers around the world who are struggling with their own journeys to find happiness, to pursue impossible dreams, or to find the courage necessary to create the lives they want for themselves.”

HAIFAA AL MANSOUR is the first female filmmaker in Saudi Arabia and is regarded as one of the most significant cinematic figures in the Kingdom. She finished her bachelor’s degree in Literature at the American University in Cairo and completed a Master’s degree in Directing and Film Studies from the University of Sydney.

The success of her three short films, as well as the international acclaim of her award-winning 2005 documentary Women Without Shadows, influenced a whole new wave of Saudi filmmakers and made the issue of opening cinemas in the Kingdom a front-page discussion. Within the Kingdom her work is both praised and vilified for encouraging discussion on topics generally considered taboo, like tolerance, the dangers of orthodoxy, and the need for Saudis to take a critical look at their traditional and restrictive culture. Haifaa was recently listed as one of the “Leading Global Thinkers” by Foreign Policy magazine, as one of the “10 Directors to Watch” by Variety, and awarded the “Freedom of Expression Award” from the National Board of Review. Through both her films and her work in television and print media, Al Mansour is famous for penetrating the wall of silence surrounding the sequestered lives of Saudi women and providing a platform for their unheard voices.

Penguin Young Readers Group is one of the leading children’s book publishers in the United States. The company owns a wide range of imprints and trademarks including Dial Books, Dutton, Grosset & Dunlap, Philomel, Puffin, Speak, Firebird, G. P. Putnam’s Sons, Viking, Razorbill, and Frederick Warne. These imprints are home to such award-winning, New York Times- bestselling authors as, Laurie Halse Anderson, Jay Asher, Judy Blume, Jan Brett, Eric Carle, Ally Condie, Roald Dahl, Tomie dePaola, Sarah Dessen, Anna Dewdney, John Flanagan, John Green, Anthony Horowitz, Oliver Jeffers, Mike Lupica, Richelle Mead, Richard Peck, Patricia Polacco, and dozens of other popular authors. Penguin Young Readers Group is also the proud publisher of perennial brand franchises such as The Little Engine That Could, the Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys series, Peter Rabbit, Spot, the Classic Winnie the Pooh, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Strega Nona, Madeline, Mad Libs, Alex Rider, the Rangers Apprentice, Skippyjon Jones, Flower Fairies, and Pippi Longstocking, among many others. Penguin Young Readers Group is a division of Penguin Group LLC, a Penguin Random House company.

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