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SALMA THE SYRIAN CHEF by Danny Ramadan Kirkus Star


by Danny Ramadan ; illustrated by Anna Bron

Pub Date: March 10th, 2020
ISBN: 978-1-77321-375-0
Publisher: Annick Press

When Salma and her mom move from the refugee camp to Canada, they seem to leave joy behind with Papa.

Back in the camp, her mom giggled with her friends all the time, but now, in Vancouver, she hardly laughs at all. They both miss Papa and hope he’ll join them soon. Salma and her mom live in the Welcome Center with other newcomers. When she shares her quest to make Mama laugh with one of the helpers, Nancy suggests that Salma draw her good memories for inspiration. As Salma illustrates her home in Damascus and her parents eating a dish of foul shami, she has an idea! “I think Mama misses Syrian food….I want to make her foul shami.” However, she doesn’t know the recipe, let alone the English words for any of the needed vegetables. Setting many vignettes in an eight-pointed star-shaped frame, Bron fills the pages with careful detail and glimpses of different cultures and places, including Vancouver. At the Welcome Center, Salma and readers meet children from Egypt, India, and Venezuela; a translator from Jordan; a gay couple from Lebanon; and others from Canada, Somalia, and Iran. With creativity and help from friends, Salma moves ahead with her plan, but so many things go wrong. The story ends with a lovely surprise and, of course, a big laugh from Mama.

This beautiful story grasps diversity, exploring resilience, love, friendship, and the meaning of home.

(Picture book. 4-8)