We Are Palestinian: A Celebration of Culture and Tradition; Reem Kassis, illustrated by Noha Eilouti
When I think of Palestine, the words bombings, air raids, Gaza Strip and West Bank spring to mind. But to be so narrow-minded and naive is to do Palestine and Palestinians a huge disservice and this incredible non-fiction book, that celebrates everything Palestinian, is a wonderful and eye-opening introduction to a stunning place and nation of people.
Nestled between the eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea and the Persian Gulf is a piece of land shaped like a crescent moon. Often referred to as the Cradle of Civilisation, the land here is fertile, lush and bountiful. One of the countries located here…Palestine. Influenced by many powerful civilisations Palestine is vibrant and unique, vast and rich. Discover the history of iconic cultural symbols, the stories of a troubled past and the inspiration behind poetry, song and film. Have tastebuds tingled, be wowed by old cities and explore different regions. Welcome to Palestine…
With expert tour guides on hand - both Reem and Noha have Palestinian heritage, you are invited to take an engrossing trip to a foreign land without leaving the comfort of your home. That said, after reading, many children (and adults) will be looking at flight options to go and take in the sights, sounds and smells firsthand. Who wouldn’t want to feast on maqlubeh, shop for a piece of famed embroidery, explore some of the oldest cities in the world and join in with a dabke performance!
Full of fascinating insights, snippets of information, facts galore and littered with beautiful, colourful artwork, We Are Palestinian unashamedly shouts from the rooftops about everything that makes Palestine great. Shining a much needed light on a complex and intriguing part of our world in a hugely appealing, visually engaging and accessible way will ensure the next generation talk about Palestine and Palestinians with excited voices.
Beginning with a heartfelt foreword - like a love letter to her homeland - and then split into seven sections covering culture, heritage, food, people, places, history, traditions and more, an awful lot is crammed into a little over one-hundred pages. Readers will love diving into their favourite topics, be it feasting on delicious foods, familiarising themselves with the geography and landscape or understanding how such a small country has had such a huge part to play in history.
A quick look at Reem’s Facebook page reveals that this is ‘the first ever English non-fiction children’s book to cover Palestinian history and culture in this way’. And what a book it is - inspiring, uplifting and important. The proud Palestinian heritages of author and illustrator shine through in every word and illustration; it is obvious the amount of time spent in producing something so lovingly created, throughly researched and carefully put together, giving outsiders an inside look at a little known about part of the world.
In Reem’s author’s note she remarks that she wants to preserve traditions and stories and to share everything great about Palestine and Palestinians with the world. Well, Reem…mission accomplished. I only hope that you continue to write children’s books that educate and inform as this one is much needed and belongs in all schools and libraries.
Any children with an interest in geography and learning about those countries of the world that do not get curriculum coverage will love this book. Especially suited to those in their upper years of primary school.
Recommended for 9+.
With huge thanks to Allen and Unwin and Bonnier Books for the copy I received in exchange for an honest review.