Professionals and parents can probably pull a few interesting activities and anecdotes from this book, but the individual...


From the A Kid's Guide To... series

Ralph Nader, Khalil Gibran and Danny Thomas: What do they have in common? 

They are Lebanese-Americans mentioned in this uneven compendium of facts and activities that explores the history of immigrants from the Middle East and North Africa. The title is misleading, as such groups as Chaldeans, Berbers and Sephardic Jews, among others, are included, even though they do not believe that they are Arab. Despite this, exposing American readers to the great religious and cultural diversity of these 16 countries and the Palestinian territories and their immigrants is a worthwhile endeavor. Unfortunately, the craft instructions, games, recipes, dance, language-learning and writing projects vary in the strength of their connection to “Arab” culture. For example, Palestinian-American writer Naomi Shihab Nye is featured, and the related activity focuses on her poem “Every Cat Has a Story,” which is tied to her writing about “everyday events and ordinary events”—not to her writing about the Middle East. “Design a National Safety Month Poster,” strangely, attempts to connect Ralph Nader to the legendary phoenix. The diagrams are useful, and some of the design elements are attractive, but the other illustrations are amateurish.

Professionals and parents can probably pull a few interesting activities and anecdotes from this book, but the individual parts do not add up to a cohesive whole. (resources, bibliography, index [not seen]) (Nonfiction. 8-11)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-61374-017-0

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Chicago Review Press

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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Il était une fois…” French Canada’s version of beanstalk-climbing Jack gets a rare outing in three tales refashioned from old sources by a veteran storyteller. Preserving the lightest touch of a French inflection—“Cric, crac, / Parli, parlons, parlo. / If you won’t listen, / Out you go”—Andrews sets her naïve but teachable everylad up against a trio of opponents. There is a grasping princess who tricks him out of a magic belt, moneybag and trumpet; a murderous little man who sets him on numerous impossible tasks after beating him at marbles; and a harsh seigneur who insists on chucking his intellectual daughter’s suitors into the dungeon when they prove to be less clever than she. Thanks to hard work, a little magic and a winning way with the ladies, Ti-Jean ultimately comes out on top in each episode while never allowing lasting harm to come to anyone and is ever magnanimous in victory. Illustrated with frequent scribbly, lighthearted ink-and-wash scenes and vignettes, these stories read with equal ease silently or aloud and offer a winning introduction to a universal folk character. Equally charming is the source note, in which Andrews describes the origins of the tales and how she worked with them. “Sac-à-tabac, / Sac-à-tabi. / The story’s ended, / C’est fini.(Folktales. 9-11)

Pub Date: April 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-88899-952-8

Page Count: 72

Publisher: Groundwood

Review Posted Online: April 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2011

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An unsuccessful foray into Persian history and legend.



An illustrated profile of an ancient queen.

Seven hundred years ago, a 14-year-old girl named Goharshad married the powerful ruler Shah Rukh and became a queen. After moving to Herat, the stunning seat of her new husband’s empire, Goharshad dreamed of transforming her kingdom into something even more beautiful than it already was. For the rest of her reign, Goharshad funded and oversaw artistic projects ranging from the creation of a mosque to the construction of a library and a college intended to include women and girls. Goharshad persisted despite doubts about her decisions, creating a legacy that lasted until war and time destroyed her most impressive creations. This text-heavy book walks an uncertain line between fiction and nonfiction: Many passages that are presented as facts feel rooted in speculation, such as the musings of an “old man” who gathers the jeweled tiles that are all that remains of a building the queen constructed in Herat. Since the author provides no historical sources, it is hard to say what genre this is meant to be. The unnecessarily flowery language—which is, equally unnecessarily, printed in a stylized typeface—and the highly embellished illustrations are troubling and exoticizing. Furthermore, the tragic tone of the final pages renders this story one of loss, leaving readers with a deficit perspective of a troubled region with a rich and vibrant past. A classroom guide on the publisher's website provides extension activities but no further documentation for the story itself.

An unsuccessful foray into Persian history and legend. (Picture book. 8-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-949528-97-8

Page Count: 44

Publisher: Yali Books

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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