Today, we are delighted to celebrate the release of Empty and Me: A Tale of Friendship and Loss by Azam Mahdavi, illustrated by Maryam Tahmasebi, and translated by Parisa Saranj!
In this bilingual Persian-English picture book, a little girl learns how to live with the gentle giant that embodies her grief.
After a young girl’s mother dies, Empty appears and silently takes up the big blank space left behind. For some time, the girl can’t connect with her dad or any friends, and Empty is her closest companion. But then, a happy reminder of her mom pops up one day, and this bit of joy helps the little girl open up to the world around her. Empty stays around, but the little girl starts to connect with others and share new moments of happiness with them.
Originally published in Iran, this bilingual Persian-English picture book provides a gentle starting point for discussing death and grief with young readers. Its spare, poignant text and artwork gives children a concrete point of reference for the complex emotions people experience after the loss of a loved one. Readers of any age, however, will find comfort in the encouraging message of this beautiful book.
Praise for Empty and Me:
⭐ “Powerful while still sensitive to the target audience, this picture book follows the gradual journey of loss.” — Foreward Reviews, starred review
⭐ “The sepia and gray-toned images, although digitally rendered, mimic colored pencils and set a solemn tone that reinforces the girl’s loneliness in a vast world without her mom. The character of Empty is soft curves and bright white, the perfect complement for the sharp edges of loss… A strong purchase to introduce loss and, not incidentally, expose students to translated works.” — School Library Journal, starred review
Azam Mahdavi is a freelance author, artist, translator, and graphic designer based in Tehran. She has published dozens of books for children and young adults in Iran, which have been translated into various languages. Several of her books have received awards in different national festivals, such as the Institute for the Intellectual Development of Children and Young Adults’ Festival. Empty and Me is her first book to be translated into English and published in the U.S.
Maryam Tahmasebi is a freelance illustrator and designer based in Tehran. She’s illustrated six books published in Iran, which have been translated into Korean, Turkish, and Chinese. You can see more of her work at maryamtahmasebi.
Parisa Saranj was born in Isfahan, Iran. Her writings and translations have appeared in several publications, including Ms. Magazine, Two Lines, and Consequence. She lives in Baltimore with her cat, Abnabat Choobi, which means “lollipop” in Persian. You can find both of them on social media at @PSaranj.