Sharing Our Homeland: Palestinian and Jewish Children at Summer Peace Camp

Sharing Our Homeland: Palestinian and Jewish Children at Summer Peace Camp

by Trish Marx

A photo-essay focusing on two children living in Israel—one Palestinian and one Jewish—who, in spite of their differences and the longstanding conflicts in the region, learn to play and share ideas together at summer camp.See more details below


A photo-essay focusing on two children living in Israel—one Palestinian and one Jewish—who, in spite of their differences and the longstanding conflicts in the region, learn to play and share ideas together at summer camp.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
This polished photo-essay by the creators of Everglades Forever is set at a day camp in Israel where Israeli and Palestinian children come together "not as enemies, but as campers, as children, and maybe, as friends." Marx's direct narrative and Karp's mostly candid, action-filled photos focus on two campers: Alya, an Israeli Palestinian girl and Yuval, an Israeli Jewish boy. After introducing their families and providing a capsule history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Marx offers an upbeat, present-tense description of camp life, which involves standard on-site activities as well as field trips to a kibbutz and an Arab village. Readers learn about each culture as campers visit museums and bake and break traditional breads in both places. Realities of the kids' turbulent homeland also surface: emergency responders giving a presentation demonstrate how a remote-controlled robot can be used to take care of suspicious objects, and Marx notes that the campers "have lived with the possibility of violence their entire lives." It's an informative, uplifting portrait of friendships forged in a peaceful oasis and a commitment to understanding and tolerance. Ages 6-11. (June)
Children's Literature - Lois Rubin Gross
Kids go to summer camp in many countries, but few camps have the same mission as Camp Peace, a joint effort between Jews and Palestinians to promote peace for children who share Israel as a homeland. Colorful, engaging photographs show children engaging in normal camp activities: swimming, playing, and camping out. The book focuses on a Jewish boy, Yuval, and a Moslem girl, Alya, who live in neighboring settlements and would otherwise have never met. The author offers a very concise and neutral overview of the roots of the Middle East conflict, a notable achievement in a book designed to represent children on both sides of the fight without bias. The campers visit a kibbutz museum and an Arab woman's home to bake native bread. Alya helps Yuval make challah, a Jewish bread, because she knows how to bake and he does not. Cooperation is obviously promoted at the camp. The one sobering activity in the book is that the "special visitors" to the camp are a bomb squad who demonstrate how they remove a suspected bomb and treat casualties at a bomb site. Sadly, this event must be as standard to these children as a visit from neighborhood firemen is to American children. With the exception of Alya who wears a hijab (veil) by choice, none of the campers wear kipot (yarmulkes) or other religious head coverings. Yuval wears a kipah when celebrating the Sabbath at home with his family. It raises the question of how a religious child, committed to rules of modesty, participates in coeducational swimming. The author provides further reading, websites, and a glossary of pronunciations, as well as adult-level source reading. A solid addition to collections seeking balance on a very complex subject. Reviewer: Lois Rubin Gross
School Library Journal
Gr 3–6—Alya, an Israeli Palestinian girl, and Yuval, an Israeli Jewish boy, attend Peace Camp where kids learn respect for one anothers' cultures. This photo-essay explores the home lives of both children, and follows them through the camp experience. The author provides very basic history and context for the Middle East conflict, always circling back to its effect on Alya's and Yuval's lives. She paints a compelling portrait of the camp, which combines familiar activities like swimming and crafts with more serious ones like a bomb-squad demo or field trips to Jewish and Arab communities. Quotes from interviews with the children, their families, and camp staff add life to the narrative. Large, clear, colorful photos create a "you are there" feeling. While the depiction of the two ethnicities is fairly evenhanded, the subtitle's descriptors may trouble some adult readers. Why not "Arab" and "Jewish" or "Muslim" and "Jewish"? However, the editor has stated that the people at Peace Camp, all of whom are Israeli citizens, preferred to be identified this way. The lens of summer camp provides a positive introduction to a troubled region. The book's hopeful tone may inspire readers to explore the topic further.—Heidi Estrin, Feldman Children's Library at Congregation B'nai Israel, Boca Raton, FL
Kirkus Reviews
Peace is a relative term in this lengthy photographic essay featuring Alya, an Israeli Palestinian girl, and Yuval, an Israeli Jewish boy. They meet in a summer camp in Israel that's designed to teach children to replace feelings of fearful hatred with respect through dialogue and a sharing of activities. Commonalities and differences are emphasized by addition of the cultural appreciation of foods and religious traditions to the usual summer-camp fun of swimming, crafts, music and sports. A session on emergency rescue, something both children have experienced due to the prevalence of violent extremism, is meant to offer reassurance that authorities work hard "to keep all the citizens of Israel safe." Karp's action-filled color photographs incorporate family scenes with the daily camp doings, giving readers a sense of both Palestinian and Jewish life. The difficult political climate is touched on, but it doesn't overshadow the admirable efforts of parents and educators to instill a healthy, mutual tolerance, the idea being that the beginning of peace requires separate respectful coexistence. A useful teaching tool and discussion starter for multicultural curricula. (Informational picture book. 8-12)

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Product Details

Lee & Low Books, Inc.
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
10.70(w) x 8.80(h) x 0.50(d)
960L (what's this?)
Age Range:
8 Years

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