Arab Today, arab today julia johnson at emirates airline festival of literature
Last Updated : GMT 06:17:11
Arab Today, arab today
Arab Today, arab today

Julia Johnson at Emirates airline festival of Literature

Arab Today, arab today

Arab Today, arab today Julia Johnson at Emirates airline festival of Literature

Dubai - Arabstoday

Julia Johnson has been harvesting literary gems from the Gulf for the world\'s young readers. Many of her books, such as The Pearl Diver and The Cheetah\'s Tale are available in Arabic, too. She is keen to raise awareness about the Gulf\'s rich oral story-telling heritage by keeping her own child-like wonder, forming strong bonds with like-minded Gulf citizens and listening to their tales of days gone by. \"Everybody loves a good story, opening a book and stepping into a fascinating story or perhaps a different world,\" says Johnson, who has lived in Dubai with her architect husband Brian since 1975. Julia gladly admits she wants to preserve this heritage, and it shows in the stories she weaves which are infused with local elements and universal values. Her most recent book, The Leopard Boy, is getting excellent reviews, both locally and in the UK. It tells the story of Khalid who looks after his uncle\'s goats in the Omani mountains. \"Stories form a bridge between generations. I want them preserved and written down so that they are not forgotten,\" said Julia. \"If you think about how quickly society has changed, today\'s youngsters can\'t begin to imagine how very difficult and very different their grandparents\' childhoods were unless they listen to their stories.\" The Pearl Diver looks at life in the Arabian Gulf through the eyes of a six-year-old boy, Saeed, who goes to sea with his father Abdullah for many months in search of pearls, long before the skyscraper era. Julia trained as a drama teacher, but after a three-year stint as a teacher she left the UK with her husband Brian, an architect who has helped build some of the city\'s iconic projects such as the Dubai Creek Golf and Yacht Club and the Arabian Court, Spa and Residence at the One and Only Royal Mirage. Since then, the Johnsons have formed deep ties with Dubai and its people. Their two children (Emily, 35, and Alexander, 33) were born and raised in Dubai. Julia does not hide her love for storytelling, having first read children\'s stories on both Dubai Radio and Dubai TV in the 1980s. She has created her own Humpy Grumpy Camel glove puppet from the book of the same title, which she uses in her storytelling. Her experimenting with the written word came as a natural extension of her love of storytelling and acting. She has also recorded over 100 audio books in the UK. Her works target a wide range of young readers - from the hardback illustrated alphabet rhyme such as A is for Arabia to Saluki, Hound of the Bedouin, about a young boy growing up in the desert. Her 14th book, The Turtle Girl, set in a village on the east coast of the UAE, is due out this year. \"When we first came, Dubai was a small town and we\'ve seen it metamorphose into a huge city. The locals were always kind and happy to help. They opened their homes and even palaces to foreigners and were always prepared to roll up their sleeves and help you get out of the sand.\" Julia is fascinated by local stories that have not been written down yet - which she now considers \"endangered\", with the young generation hooked to new or social media. Will books survive the onslaught of electronic media? \"Books need to go hand in hand with electronic media and publishers have to keep up with the trends. There\'s a place for Kindles and iPads and a place for books, and I\'m delighted that The Leopard Boy is now available on Kindle. Writing and storytelling will survive the test of time.\" The literature festival this year has expanded its fringe events to include performances of music, drama, dance and poetry by local talents. The Adult Fringe, as it is called, features five events: Poetry reading by Barareh Amidi from Truth Told Raw; instrumental performance by the Gong Birds; the staging of That Explains a Lot, a comedy from New Developments III by the Dubai Drama Group; a performance by acting coach and casting director Miranda Davidson, and singer Sach Holden\'s (above) performance. The Adult Fringe is from 4.30pm to 10pm and the shows are free of charge. From gulfnews

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