Thursday, February 16, 2023

Arab Arab All Year Long!

PreS-Gr 4-Camper has selected events to reflect the wide variety of "language, culture, and ethnicity" found among those who identify as Arab. The author's note explains that the various stories are based on her own life experiences. Illustrations show children and families in activities throughout the year: creating costumes for a comic convention, cooking together, gathering with friends. Within those familiar activities are details specific to each family, such as painting henna designs on each other's hands during a sleepover, listening to the sounds made by a doumbek drum, or choosing the fillings for maamoul cookies. Another page mentions that "vowels are dots and dashes, hovering like birds around the consonants" in written Arabic with a matching image of words flying out a window. A wide variety of skin tones, hair colors, and clothing styles show "There is no universal definition of who is Arab." Along with the author's note is a glossary, though in the case of the stars with Arabic names-Betelgeuse, Rigel, and Aldebaran, for example-they are shown in Arabic within the illustration. VERDICT A generous and helpful introduction to the richness and variety of what it means to be Arab that will have readers comparing and contrasting scenes with their own family activities.

My review originally appeared in School Library Journal, June 2022, p. 64.

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