Sybil Wettasinghe

Janaki Sooriyarachchi | Author

Sybil Wettasinghe, the Sri Lankan writer and illustrator is a figure renowned for her invaluable contribution to children’s literature in Sri Lanka. She is best known as “Sybil Nenda” among her large circle of admirers who deeply adore her work as well as her remarkable personality.

She has authored over 200 children’s books in Sinhala, many of which were translated to other languages gaining her both local and international recognition. In 2004, she was awarded the honorary title of “Kala Keerthi” to recognize her achievements in fine and performing arts. In addition, she has won many national and international awards as tributes to her extraordinary work. Here is a list of awards won by her for her works (Source: Wikipedia).

  • The Wesak Lantern – State Literary Award for best English Children’s book in year 1996.
  • The Child in Me – The Gratiaen Prize for most Creative English book in year 1995.
  • Prize for illustrations of “Deeptha Lama Maga”, awarded by Biennial of Illustrations in Bratislava (BIB).
  • “Magul Gedara Bath Natho” – State Literary Award in year 1971.
  • The Umbrella Thief – Best Children’s Picture Book award by Ministry of Cultural Affairs of Japan, in year 1986.
  • Most popular Children’s Book award by International Library of Children’s Literature in year 1987.
  • Award for Illustrations of the Sinhala Children’s Bible “Deeptha Lama Maga” in year 1989, presented by Biennial of Illustration Bratislava.
  • “Meti Gedara Lamay” – Best Juvenile Children’s Book Award by the Arts Council of Sri Lanka, in year 1992.
  • Wooley Ball – Best English Children’s Book award by the Arts Council of Sri Lanka, in year 1994.
  • The Child in Me – The Gratiaen Prize for best English Children’s Book in year 1995.
  • Hoity the Fox – By the Ministry of Culture and Social Welfare Japan, in year 1995.
  • “Vishwa Prasadini” Award for Art and Children’s Literature presented by the 1st Female Prime Minister of Sri Lanka Hon. Sirimavo Bandaranaike, in year 1996.
  • Award of “Rohana Pradeepa” from the University of Ruhuna in year 2003.
  • “Galu Pahansilu” – from the Young Men’s Buddhist Association Galle, in year 2004.
  • Kala Keerthi award presented by the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, in year 2005.
  • “Solis Mendis Award” in year 2007.
  • Dura Gamanak – The State literary awards.
  • Nikkei Asia Prize for Culture for 2012

Among her best works, “Kuda Hora” or “Umbrella Thief” in English, holds a special place and has been translated into seven different languages including, Tamil, Chinese, Japanese, and Norwegian. Her latest book, “Wonder Crystal,” with an open ending marked a Guinness World record for being the book with the highest number of alternative endings written by children.

Her nursery stories are a treat for every child as they take the reader through an imaginative journey filled with fun, laughter, and curiosity. They impart great moral lessons for children as well. The unique Sybil Wettasingha arts found in all her storybooks provide an illustrative reading experience for kids. These creative arts are another reason why her books are so popular.

As much as she is popular as a notable author of children’s story books, she began her career as a writer and was the first woman to serve in the editorial board of a national Sinhala newspaper for a long-term basis. Here’s an interesting interview where Sybil Nenda recounts her life story sharing her best memories as a child and student.

Sybil Wettasinghe passed away on the 1st of July, 2020. Although this great writer is no longer with us today, she will live forever in the hearts of those who grew up with her storybooks. For readers who had the privilege of enriching their childhood with books of Sybil Wettasinge, remembering her stories is a remembrance of their childhood. If you are someone who grew up with her books, reading them as bed time stories, and enjoying illustrations of her best artworks, you would know the specialty of her work. Maybe it’s time you presented these kids story books to your children.

If you are looking for the best books to inculcate the reading habit in your child, we recommend you to start with a book, especially curated for Sri Lankan children by our Sybil Nenda. But, if you don’t have the time to visit a bookstore and buy a good book, browse through our book collection for kids online and get it delivered to your doorstep!

Take a look at the list of Sybil Wettasinghe books available at our store below.