I am the author, writer, illustrator (partially) and publisher of The World of Barzu, a series of children’s books about a boy named Barzu, his family, and the world of wonders and legends that surrounds him.
The goal of the series is to introduce children to the region of Central Asia. Through the story, illustrations, and detailed ethnographic notes at the end of each book, I introduce readers to the diverse cultures of Central Asia, their arts, crafts, and cuisine, as well as the region’s history and contributions to global civilization. This project defines Central Asia as a region combining five countries: Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan.
Each book in the series will focus on specific themes and be structured to facilitate discussion and comparative analysis. The accessible language, detailed illustrations, and engaging stories bring readers as young as three years into a world of fairy tales, while older readers and their parents can dig deeper into the region through the Ethnographic Notes, which offers the historical context for the story and detailed descriptions of places and customs. Additional activities let kids learn through hands-on activities and questions for discussion. The text is complemented by large, colorful illustrations filled with cultural details, which provide visual reference and convey the visual beauty of the region to the readers. This structure allows an individual to discover Central Asia gradually, through different types of learning: visual, auditory, and kinesthetic. In 2019, her project “Introducing Central Asia through Children’s Literature” received Honorable Mention in the Public Outreach Award from Central Eurasian Studies Society.
ORANGE AND BLUE: THE WORLD OF BARZU
Book One in this series, Orange and Blue: The World of Barzu, published in 2017, focuses on ancient bread baking traditions, practices for sun-drying fruits, and the connections between Central Asia and India. The book also contains games and recipes for different kinds of Central Asian bread. Illustrations prepared by the well-known Tajik artist Farrukh Negmatzade. This publication was partly funded through a crowdfunding campaign by about 400 individual sponsors from all over the world, as well as by institutions such as Indiana University, Tajik American Cultural Association, and the American Uzbekistan Association.
Orange and Blue: The World of Barzu is currently available in two separate language versions (English and Russian). It is registered in the Library of Congress Catalogue: LCCN 201941828.1
Please request your copy through Amazon https://www.amazon.com/Marina-Abrams/e/B08YS19ZQL/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0
THE RIDDLE OF THE TALKING TAPESTRY
I am now hard at work producing Book Two of the series, The Riddle of the Talking Tapestry, which will focus on the region’s rich traditions of embroidery and fabrics. Illustrations for this book are prepared by the artist Gulya Gromova Djumagari, who divides her time between Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan (http://gromova.info/biography.html). As in the first book, the story will include a fairy tale related to the main theme, a deeply researched Ethnographic Notes section, and activities for kinesthetic learning. The anticipated publishing date for this book is November 2021. Here is the link to the crowdfunding campaign for the publication.