Children's Africana Book Award (CABA) 2021 Honor Book
NCSS 2021 Notable Social Studies Book
Kanzi’s family has moved from Egypt to America, and on her first day in a new school, what she wants more than anything is to fit in. Maybe that’s why she forgets to take the kofta sandwich her mother has made for her lunch, but that backfires when Mama shows up at school with the sandwich. Mama wears a hijab and calls her daughter Habibti (dear one). When she leaves, the teasing starts.
That night, Kanzi wraps herself in the beautiful Arabic quilt her teita (grandma) in Cairo gave her and writes a poem in Arabic about the quilt. Next day her teacher sees the poem and gets the entire class excited about creating a “quilt” (a paper collage) of student names in Arabic. In the end, Kanzi’s most treasured reminder of her old home provides a pathway for acceptance in her new one.
This authentic story with beautiful illustrations includes a glossary of Arabic words and a presentation of Arabic letters with their phonetic English equivalents.
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About the Author
Anait Semirdzhyan grew up in a multicultural family and lived in several countries with diverse cultures before settling in the Seattle area with her husband and twin daughters. Her illustrations begin as pencil sketches on cold-press watercolor paper. She then inks the outlines, paints with watercolors, and scans the illustrations in order to edit them in Photoshop. She is the illustrator of The Arabic Quilt and other works that can be viewed at www.anaitsart.com.
Interview with Aya Khalil
Q1: Why did you write this book? I wrote this book because I want kids to see themselves in stories. It’s based on true stories growing up as an Egyptian-American.
Q2: Even though the title has immigrant in it, I think it’s for everyone! I think kids and adults (first, second, third generation) can relate to it!
Q3: Are you Kanzi? It is based on true events from my own childhood when I immigrated to the US from Egypt. I had a teacher in elementary school who created the same project that’s in the book. I just reached out to tell her this and she was so surprised!
Q4: I love that you made Kanzi with dark skin and dark curly hair. How did you decide on her look? It was important for the main character to not be white as only 31 percent of books feature a child of color and that’s way too low! There’s lots of curly haired girls and boys in my own family as well.
From muslimskidlit.com 2/21/2020