Books by Muslim Authors, Diverse Books, Middle Grade Books, Muslim Shelf Space

The Arabic Quilt by Aya Khalil – ARC Review

I was sent a copy of an ARC by the author in exchange for an honest review.

I absolutely adored this picture book! It is such a wonderful story and has beautiful illustrations!

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Rating: 5/5

Synopsis from Goodreads:

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 is a book I wish I had when I was young and I will definitely be giving this book to all my friends and family with young kids. Especially with everything happening in the world today, these type of books are so needed. It shows how being “different” doesn’t make you any less than the majority.

This book showed how people come from different cultures and that being around people from lots of different cultures can be so beautiful because you get to experience so much more. The diversity gives people the chance to be more open minded and they can learn about different traditions, food, clothes, languages and so much more. Egyptian culture from the way they are at home to the food they eat and so much more is woven into the story as the norm for Kanzi and it was so wonderful to see!

It also showed how kids from ethnic minorities can feel nervous about being “too different” and not fitting in or being accepted and that if we were more inclusive it would make everyone feel comfortable and safe. Aya showed how Kanzi is made fun of because she speaks a different language and her food is different from what is considered the norm at lunch and how it made her feel.

It’s so important for kids to see this how it isn’t okay to make others feel like this because it is different from your normal. Being bilingual is amazing and I know that in my effort to fit in I didn’t learn my mother tongue as well as I could have and I do regret it now. So it was really lovely to see that aspect in the book where Kanzi is taught to be proud of her mother tongue and heritage as it is a part of her.

In the story we see how one particular girl is dismissive and somewhat condescending in how she treats Kanzi and we find out she learnt these opinions from her mum and I thought it was a really great thing to include as kids really do learn and form opinions based on what they see their parents doing. It was really great to see that once she learns more about Kanzi and spends time with her she changes and learns to treat her better.

I just love how much kids can learn from this book and still enjoy a wonderful diverse story of a young girl that many kids from ethnic minorities will easily relate to.

This book is a wonderful story and uses something that all kids will understand, a blanket to build bridges between the kids and show that no matter what culture or background you come from you are all valid and equal. That different cultures actually enrich our lives and introduce us to so much that we wouldn’t see otherwise.

I highly recommend everyone reading this book to the kids in their lives. Plus the illustrations are so wonderful too.