Cover Image: The Arabic Quilt

The Arabic Quilt

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Member Reviews

I look forward to adding this book to my back-to-school collection. I love the way language is celebrated.
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Kanzi and her family have just moved to American from Egypt, and while missing her teita (grandmother). Wrapped in her quilt, she writes poetry and worries about her first day of school. When she forgets her lunch, Kanzi’s mother brings it, and her hijab and speaking Arabic spark teasing from the very white girls in Kanzi’s class. Her teacher encourages Kanzi to bring her teita’s quilt to school which sparks a cool, class project of writing everyone’s name in Arabic and creating a bulletin board “quilt.” Learning about Kanzi’s language and culture encourages the children to appreciate Kanzi more, and the project sparks more interest in more languages and culture, too.

I really enjoyed this book. My family is from Lebanon, not Egypt, but the Arabic sparked nostalgia for my own family’s traditions and beloved terms of endearment. This book teaches children a little about the Arabic language, culture, and foods (perhaps the best part of other cultures). It encourages children to accept others and to learn as much about other people as they can, because knowledge sparks empathy and also makes people smarter overall. PS, the illustration is on point!

This one hsa been out since February, so pick it up for your next storytime from your favorite, local bookstore, or see if you can find it on the shelves of your local library.
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I loved reading this amazing story about how one little girl invites her class to experience her culture. It is a wonderful representation of how teachers can include all students and their backgrounds in a classroom.
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This book is absolutely lovely. The text and illustrations are both incredibly appealing, and the story of an Egyptian-American girl learning to accept her bilingual, multicultural identity is authentic and moving. This story is based on the author's experiences as a child, and she convincingly resolves the narrative conflict without making it saccharine or unbelievable. This book is a great choice for schools because of its classroom setting, and families with multicultural backgrounds or interest in learning about other cultural experiences will greatly enjoy this.

Another thing I admire about this book is how well the author incorporates Arabic words into the story without making it difficult for someone who is unfamiliar with the language to read the book aloud. There is a glossary in the back, and the book also mentions some English words which were derived from Arabic. I knew that 'sofa' and 'zero' came from Arabic, but I wasn't aware of the others, and found this very interesting.

This is a great book, and even though I have read a lot of different picture books about immigrant children adjusting to lives in a new school, this is already one of my new favorites.
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Such a wonderful story of Kanzi want to be "American" and fit in with her friends at school, and hide her heritage, and how her teacher shows her, instead, how to share it with others.

So often, when you are an immigrant, or child of an immigrant, you want so hard to be just like everyone else, that you lose sight of what makes you you. 

A gentle story about how even the snotty girl in the class, who looks down on Kanzi, comes around in the end.


Thanks to Netgalley for making this book available for an honest review.
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I really enjoyed this picture book. Very touching and relevant story of immigration. Will definitely recommend to others.
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This is a charming story about being proud of who you are and celebrating your heritage.  

Kanzi and her family move from Egypt to America.  When she attends her first day of school her heart's desire is not to be looked upon as different but be similar to all the other kids in her class.  The students start teasing her because she eats different foods at lunch and her language is not American - perfect. 

Feeling sad and ostracized Kanzi goes home and curls up inside a beloved quilt that her grandma (Teita ) made for her.  She writes a poem for her parents in Arabic.  

"Shukran Mama and Baba,
For always encouraging me to be proud
of speaking a different language
and speaking it out loud.  
Languages can unite us together
like a quilt,
So I will aways speak my
languages without guilt. 
I will never be ashamed to speak,
in this language that is so unique.
Bahebek, Mama.
Bahebak, Baba."

The next day at school her wise and creative teacher reads Zanzi's poem and has a brilliant idea.  She encourages the class to make a quilt of their own, one with each student's name written in Arabic.  Zanzi's mother comes to class and both she and her daughter become translators as they transform each child's name from English into Arabic.  The students are excited to see their names magically appear written in another language. In doing so the students discover the beauty, value and fun of speaking another language.   

Molly, the most insistent and insensitive teaser, has a change of heart towards Zanzi and they become friends.  Zanzi's shame turns into pride which is wonderful to behold.  The author includes a glossary of Arabic words spoken in Egyptian dialect and some English words that have developed from Arabic.  I am sure kids will find this component fascinating.... who knew?  The story is about tolerance and acceptance.  It is a positive and uplifting message that will inspire others to be kind, understanding and knowledgeable regarding other races and cultures. 

The illustrations are very well done.  They are colourful and very expressive defining the characters perfectly.  I highly recommend this book.
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I was the daughter of immigrants coming of age in the late 1960s and early 1970s. I remember cringing at how different my food was from my peers and how — well, alien — my parents were. So The Arabic Quilt: An Immigrant Story really hit home on that level. At the same time, as a teacher, I have many students who themselves the children of immigrants. I like to believe it’s easier now; however, the need for this book tells me it’s not really.

Kanzi, a recent immigrant from Egypt, so desperately wants her classmates to like her; however, on her very first day, a careless student makes Kanzi aware of her “otherness.” Author Aya Khalil pieces together a wonderful story that never overwhelms with its message. It’s as beautiful as the quilt created by Kanzi’s beloved teita (grandma) and Anait Semirdzhayan’s poignant illustrations.

In the interest of full disclosure, I received this book from NetGalley, Myrick Marketing & Media, and Tilbury House Publishers in exchange for an honest review.
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I liked the ideas in the book.  It would make many wonderful lessons about different cultures in the classroom.
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This was sweet and the representation was particularly nice. Mom and daughter are super cute & thoughtful & kind. I always appreciate when a book celebrates how impressive it is to be multilingual and this had nods at that for sure. 

Wasn’t a knockout for me because the framing felt a bit 90’s to me. Simple apologies, simple moving on etc/ the work is on the victim’s end to demonstrate their worth to everyone else.. and hug people who were mean to you and agree to go swimming with them? Sometimes it’s that easy. Often it’s really not. So I would’ve liked a little more dynamics here especially for my students who have experiences like this and it doesn’t feel good to sweep it all away repeatedly. 

But a sweet read, with important and rare representation that is classroom ready and could open up to some conversations if teachers pushed it further. 


Thanks to Netgalley and the publishers for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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Acceptance of other languages and cultures is so important and I applaud the author for taking on this topic. Unfortunately, I feel the main character's problem is resolved too quickly and that the story itself is over-powered by the message.
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The Arabic Quilt was a beautiful story about family, belonging and sharing your story and heritage. When Kanzi starts a new school and is embarrassed by her "differences" her teacher finds a way to include her family and celebrate her language and heritage. It was a wonderful story to focus on the importance of names and words. I immediately ordered the story and can't wait for the opportunity to share it with my class.
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Sweet story about an immigrant child who shares her culture with her classmates and inspires others to do the same. I thought the depiction of the English-first white girl was very accurate
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A book that will make you pause and reflect on what it takes to be new to a culture or setting and gives thoughtful perspective on how to hold onto all parts of who you are and where you come from.  The quilt in this book is a transformation from a touchstone of the main character's family and culture and becomes the focal point of the student's new culture while teaching a lesson on diversity and appreciation for those that are from different places than ourselves.  This book has awesome potential for rich and engaging lessons spanning socials studies, history, art, and personal character development.  

Thank you to NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review this digital ARC in return for a fair and honest review.
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I absolutely loved reading this book for a few different reasons! Firstly, the writing is really well done. I loved that multiple Arabic words are seamlessly blended in throughout the story, and the entire rhythm of the writing is really soothing. Secondly, the theme of the story is beautifully accomplished. I've read a few different picture books that encourage unity and multicultural pride, and this one does it so, so well. I love how the author captures both Kanzi's anxieties about feeling different and her growth into being thankful/proud of her bilingual abilities and heritage. The progression is so sincere and natural that the message is made all that more lovely. Thirdly, I adore the illustrations. They're colorful and muted all at once, and I like how simple and yet detailed they are. I really appreciate when a picture book has great illustrations. Lastly, I'm also a huge fan of the glossary in the back that has the meanings for all the Arabic words. It really added to the book and gives another fun teaching moment if a parent or teacher is reading this with children. Highly recommend!
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When Kanzi moves to a new town with her Mama and Baba, she is afraid of being different as an Egyptian-american. But when one girl makes fun of her mother for speaking Arabic, Kanzi is ready to share who she is instead of hiding. She brings the quilt her teita made for her back in Egypt to school, and soon, her show and tell turns into an inclusive activity of making their own class quilt out of paper.

This is a beautiful story about multiculturalism in the classroom. With her quilt, Kanzi opens up to her new school and her classmates open to her as well.  The story is presented in easily understood language.  It encourages inclusion and I will recommend this book to teachers and families.
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