This absolutely gorgeous lyrical book will sweep you up and hold you tight as you imagine a world where more people take the time to get to know one another through the power and beauty of language. Over 32 pages that are exquisitely and whimsically illustrated the words dance and come to life in English and Arabic as a friendship is formed. Perfect for preschool through 3rd graders, older children and adults alike will be softened by the kindness and example shown between two little girls.
Told from the perspective of a little girl that meets a new girl in school named Saida and decides right away that they are going to be friends. Unfortunately Saida speaks only Arabic, and the little girl only English.
But it is no problem, because the little girl is going to help Saida find her words. She is going to look everywhere to let her get rid of her tears and throw away her silence. So that she doesn’t see questions and sadness locked up in her.
That night at home, the little girl’s parents tell her about Morocco and find it on the globe. They explain that Saida’s words don’t work here and that her words wouldn’t work in Morocco.
Undeterred the two girls start teaching each other words in their languages. Some stick, some float away, but the two learn and communicate and connect. They find friendship in learning each other’s words.
They recite a poem by Jacqueline Woodson and tells stories about Marrakesh. The two girls plan to travel the world together. The book concludes with both alphabets shared and the reader wishing to join the little girls on their adventures.
I was blown away by the presentation of the book and the feeling of compassion and cultural appreciation depicted. Such a beautiful approach to welcoming someone different in to your life.
There is nothing Islamic or religious in the book, or really even cultural, aside from language.