In this retelling of a tale rooted in both Jewish and Arab traditions, two neighbors are friends despite perceived religious tensions of the community.
Yaffa and Fatima both own date groves right next door to each other. They share meals and talk and laugh. When Fatima sees Yaffa on the street, she waves and calls, “Salaam! Peace!” Yaffa waves back and calls, “Shalom! Peace!” The text becomes a list of differences between the two women. Yaffa prays in a synagogue. Fatima prays in a mosque. Fatima celebrates Eid. Yaffa celebrates Passover. Fatima is clad in a burgundy hijab, while Jaffa has a deep teal headscarf. Those two colors, set against a neutral backdrop, lightly accent the women’s everyday surroundings as well. The tones are carefully placed to distinguish the two women but are also included in ancillary details to begin to build a feeling of unity. Gilani-Williams never distinctly references any conflict—in fact, even the Israeli setting is not specifically mentioned, only to call it the “Land of Milk and Honey.” But readers can tell, because differences very much define the women’s relationship, that they are overcoming some sort of obstacle in being friends.
A subtle, visually arresting introduction to ethnic relations. (author’s note) (Picture book. 4-8)