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THE DAY SAIDA ARRIVED by Susana Gómez Redondo


by Susana Gómez Redondo ; illustrated by Sonja Wimmer ; translated by Lawrence Schimel

Pub Date: Sept. 15th, 2020
ISBN: 978-1-73312-125-5
Publisher: Blue Dot Kids Press

When Saida, an immigrant, arrives in her new school, she doesn’t say any words because she doesn’t speak the language, in this Spanish import.

Determined to be Saida’s friend, the narrator, a classmate, searches for the new girl’s lost words everywhere: in the park, “inside the pockets of all the coats,” and between the curtains. She draws her a welcome sign, and the newcomer draws a smile back. The narrator’s parents tell her that Saida comes from Morocco, a land of bazaars and colorful tiles, where people speak Arabic and where their family’s language “wouldn’t work either.” The girls embark on a mutual learning journey, of words, letters, and sounds. The dreamy, sometimes larger-than-life illustrations portray their creative and playful explorations. Arabic and English words and letters they’re learning fly around on laundry, in the wind, and through strands of hair, accompanied by helpful English transliterations of Arabic texts. Remarkably, the exchange between the two new friends presents the two languages and cultures as equal and the learning as reciprocal, offering a great resource for learning about immigration and cultural difference. Standard Arabic is used for the words presented rather than the Moroccan spoken dialect, which is probably not what a real-life Saida would have consistently employed to teach her new friend. However, it is the more helpful version for Arabic language learners. Saida has brown skin and long, wispy dark hair; the narrator has pale skin and a red pageboy.

A lyrical, playful book about immigration, respect, learning, and friendship across cultures.

(Picture book. 4-9)