LOS ANGELES–"Noonig," a new Armenian language children’s story by Alidz Agbabian has just been published by Los Angeles-based Dzil-u-dzar Publications.
The book is based on an Armenian folk chant (khaghig)–a highly popular form of verse characterized by humorous subject matter and regular meter and rhyme patterns. Agbabian’s take–which is intended for children three to four years old–tells the story of the eponymous heroine–a lovable–diligent–and hard-working mouse.
"Young children are very fond of rhyme–and especially rhythmic stories," says Agbabian–who is a teacher–storyteller–and performance artist. "Children also have a natural knack for quickly grasping and using onomatopoeic words–words that imitate the sound associated with a thing or action. ‘Noonig’ is sprinkled with such sound-based words–which I think help make the story both funny and engaging."
Noonig’s story begins simply enough–with the heroine enjoying her daily household chores. Then suddenly–Noonig begins to grow rapidly and becomes extremely large. Her surroundings also become larger than life–literally pouring off the page. Thus the reader is presented with a visual puzzle since the page fits only a part of the big picture. Noonig’s panic dissipates when she wakes up from her dream. She happily returns to reality–where her actual size and the familiarity of her environment is reassuring. She learns to appreciate her life as it is.
"Children are impatient to grow up–to become somebody else," Agbabian explained. "In reality–of course–they’re not at all ready to leave their childhood behind. In the third part of Noonig’s story–the words–particularly the adjectives–keep pace with the images to describe a world to which the heroine can relate. She is comfortable in her own skin. So I think the book works in two ways: by teaching kids to appreciate who they are and helping them build their vocabulary."
"Noonig" is illustrated by Anahid Sarkissian–an artist and children’s author who lives in France. Sarkissian’s stylized–evocative illustrations have appeared in several of Agbabian’s previous works–which include the children’s stories "Dzalabadig;"Tell Me Who Your Friend Is;"Fire and Water,"Sister and Brother" (both in Armenian and English versions); and the bilingual "Ayp for Soup," all published by Dzil-u-dzar Publications.
Agbabian–who lives in Los Angeles–specializes in Armenian folk–fairy tales–myths–and fables. Her multimedia storytelling events–held in classrooms–libraries–and museums throughout California have earned her both critical and popular acclaim. She also offers teachers’ workshops and develops presentations for museum exhibits and festivals. Agbabian’s storytelling repertoire includes a wide range of traditions from the Middle East–the Mediterranean–and the CIS.
"Noonig" is available at Armenian book stores nationwide as well as Dzil-u-dzar Publications–1085 Hanley Avenue–Los Angeles–CA 90049. Phone: (310) 476-5201. E-mail: [email protected]