Nouha Deliou is an up-and-coming children’s book author. Her inspiration to publish Mona’s Scrapbook Adventure arose when she noticed the lack of Algerian culture in children’s literature. She combined her love of scrapbooking and Algerian heritage to ensure her children were to see themselves in the books they read. She hopes to create more children’s books with Algerian representation that is relatable to children from all walks of life.
Nouha received her Master’s Degree in Occupational Therapy and lives in Arizona with her family.
How long have you been a member of SCBWI?
Actually, I just joined last month. I found out about SCBWI through an acquaintance who is a writer/illustrator. Then, once I became a member, I saw the E&I Team and joined it.
You have just self-published a picture book: Mona’s Scrapbook Adventure. Tell us about it.
It’s the story of two Algerian-American sisters. The older sister, Layla, is getting married and moving away to Arizona. In order to leave a very special memento to her little sister Mona, they embark on a journey to create memories and put them in a scrapbook documenting their plans for the wedding.
Why did you decide to self-publish?
Actually, I wrote the first draft about 12 years ago but left it on the backburner. Then, as I now had children of my own, I saw that they couldn’t find any book where they could read about characters like themselves. I realized it was time to publish it. I first approached a traditional publisher who said the book would have to wait because others were slated first. If I waited, my children would be grown by the time the book came out. So I decided I had to self-publish. It took a few years, but I learned a lot through this process.
Do you regret that choice?
Not at all! Once it was released, I found out that this is the first picture book featuring Algerian characters, and also the first picture book featuring North African characters! It’s been doing very well, and I have no regrets whatsoever!
There are, I suppose, a lot of details on Algerian culture in the book?
Definitely. Details about the marriage process, the wedding, traditional Algerian cookies, traditional dresses, and so on. There are 48 provinces in Algeria, and each has its own style of dress. I featured only four or five of them in the book, complete with illustrations.
Do we get the recipes for the wedding cookies as well?
I couldn’t fit them into the book, but I’m going to post them on my website and my social media.
How was your book received?
So many people reached out to me. A little girl mentioned how the book made her cry. You don’t have to be Algerian to identify with the bittersweet emotions of a loved one moving away, no matter what your background.
Are you working on another book? Is it also featuring your culture?
Yes, this one will focus on how we celebrate Eid. I like to explore the reality I myself have experienced. Despite all the cultural differences, we all share commonalities.
What would you say are the greatest obstacles for marginalized creators?
I have indeed received support during the process of producing this book. But there are some who have the attitude of it’s-not-my-culture-so-why-should-I-care… I believe that we need to diversify our children’s book collection so they can acquire different perspectives of life. Here we are in the US, walking around among so many different backgrounds. We should want our children to be explore them in books.
What’s your advice to other marginalized creators?
Don’t be afraid to showcase your own beautiful culture. Don’t whitewash it. I’d like to add that I never thought I’d be able to accomplish publishing this book. But I’m happy I did. This book is for all those children of North African background to see themselves in it.