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Children's LiteratureLeyla's family has fallen on hard times and sold nearly all their belongings to survive. Her father, Aslan, went to war to be a war painter and hasn't returned. As her family's situation gets worse, foreigners offer Leyla's family money in exchange for sending her to Istanbul for a marriage. Leyla's mother refuses, but Leyla decides she must go to help her family. Leyla arrives in Istanbul only to find that she is to be a slave. Later, a man named Sumbul Aga buys Leyla and takes her to his Topkapi Palace. Leyla is sent to work in the Palace's harem gardens because of her gift for gardening; she also becomes a painting teacher for a princess and her brother. While painting, Leyla hears a familiar voice. It is her father! They meet at once, and he explains that he has been granted amnesty by Sumbul Aga and is to return home. Leyla and her father say goodbye, and she awaits seeing her family. This is an excellent young adult novel about sacrifices and making the best of less-than-ideal situations. One of the "Girls of Many Lands" series published by the Pleasant Company, which also publishes the very popular "American Girl" series, this novel allows readers to learn about other lands and cultures. 2003, Pleasant Company Publications, Ages 9 to 12.
— Amy Aldridge