Loujain Dreams of Sunflowers

A Story Inspired by Loujain AlHathloul

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Pub Date 01 Mar 2022 | Archive Date 22 Mar 2022

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Description

A courageous girl follows her dream of learning to fly in this "clever narrative" filled with “extraordinary spirit… gorgeous colors… a magical quality” (New York Times). Inspired by formerly imprisoned human rights activist Loujain AlHathloul, this sparkling fantasy story is perfect for fans of Malala’s Magic Pencil and the Rebel Girls series.

"Poetic, moving, and empowering.” - Kirkus Reviews

Loujain watches her beloved baba attach his feather wings and fly each morning, but her own dreams of flying face a big obstacle: only boys, not girls, are allowed to fly in her country. Yet despite the taunts of her classmates, she is determined to do it—especially because Loujain loves colors, and only by flying can she see the color-filled field of sunflowers her baba has told her about. Eventually, he agrees to teach her, and Loujain's impossible dream becomes reality—and soon other girls dare to learn to fly.

Based on the experiences of co-author Lina AlHathloul's sister, Nobel Peace Prize nominee Loujain AlHathloul, who led the successful campaign to lift Saudi Arabia's ban on women driving, this moving and gorgeously illustrated story reminds us to strive for the changes we want to see—and to never take for granted women's and girls' freedoms.
A courageous girl follows her dream of learning to fly in this "clever narrative" filled with “extraordinary spirit… gorgeous colors… a magical quality” (New York Times). Inspired by formerly...

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ISBN 9781662650642
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Featured Reviews

This book was beautifully written. It made it all the more endearing when you read the back of the book and understand what the inspiration behind the story is.
Loujain is a spunky little girl who refuses to let people tell her she can’t do something just because she’s a girl! After all, why should little girls not shoot for the moon or fly to the sunflowers? What’s stopping them? Well, for Loujian, nothing is going to stop her. She’s going to fly and see the sunflowers!
Little girls (and moms too) all over the world can take something from this story. Nothing can stop you if you’re determined enough to make your dreams come true. Fly to the sunflowers, ladies!
Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.

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Taking this ingeniously beautiful Loujain and sunflowers story at face value is a sweet, endearing girl child fulfilling her dreams, and who even sparks and inspires others into fulfilling theirs. However, to know and understand the background to this story, lends potential for teaching ones own child about justice and how to work towards greater human rights for women that could spill over to any other legitimate cause. Also that such activists can and do suffer for doing what's right but still have fortitude to persevere towards their purpose and goal.

This story is accompanied by great, colorful illustrations which wonderfully compliment the storyline. Additionally, there is a section on the book itself which gives the backstory. Loujain Dreams of Sunflowers gets my full five stars, although I wish I could give it a million more.

~Eunice C. Reviewer/Blogger~

December 2021

Disclaimer: This is my honest opinion based on the review copy sent by NetGalley and the publisher.

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Loujain Dreams of Sunflowers draws from the experiences of activist Loujain AlHathloul, who lead fight against Saudi Arabia’s ban for women to drive. This book chronicles a young girl fighting to learn how to fly. No women learn how to fly and young Loujain wants to learn why. With the help of Baba, Loujain is able to achieve a once seamingly far-fetched goal of flying.

I really loved the illustrations and the color scheme. I also loved the font choice and the story overall. I selfishly wanted the story to be longer, but I appreciated how the story was told. Often times, I think narratives around international women's rights are clouded by notions of white saviorism and western feminism superiority. I also want to mention that one of the co-authors of this book is the activist Loujain AlHathloul’s sister. While this book does not necessarily explicitly mention the concepts of feminism or gender equality in the plot, I recommend this book for young readers as an introduction to those conversations.

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LOUJAIN DREAMS OF SUNFLOWERS is about a girl who dreams to fly despite living in a place where girls are not allowed to. This book is about striving for one's dreams, seeing beyond the limits society sets up for you, with the help and support of her parents. This is a beautiful book that features a loving father-daughter relationship. The art in the book is vibrant with color and details, especially the closer it gets to the end.

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I confess that I took this adorable and poignant book at face value when I first read it, thinking it was a generic metaphor for achieving your dreams. After reading the author's note, I became quite emotional. Such simple and basic things that we take for granted in my country are such a struggle for women in other countries. To be considered a traitor for driving a car or speaking out against the government, and to face such harsh punishments for those things, is truly a wake-up call for feminism the world over. I'm so glad this book is bringing these things to light and giving the author a voice to young girls the world over. She's right. You might not fly today, but you will definitely fly at some point.

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An illuminating read about believing in your dreams as well as defying societal expectations and gender norms expectations to make them come true.

I love that this book was inspired by women's rights activist Loujain Alhathloul. It has definitely encouraged me to find out more about her and her life.

The illustrations and imagery are beautiful. Kids will enjoy and be inspired by this book.

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The illustrations in this book are so vivid and magical; I have no doubt it will appeal to so many readers based on the pictures alone! The numerous perspectives of the art is so unique, and moves the story along quite dynamically. I enjoyed the familial portrayals and the storyline of the strong female protagonist. It's a book that will easily open up dialogue about Saudi women's rights. Highly recommend, and cannot wait to have this in our library!

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Loujain watches as her Baba puts on his wings every morning to fly across lands filled with wonder that are out of her reach. She knows that in life, in her community, girls are not granted the liberty of flight but in her greatest dreams, Loujain finds her way to the field of sunflowers that beckon her throughout the day.

The author's note explains that this story was written about a real-life Loujain, the sister of the author, who was imprisoned for her stance on women's rights in Saudi Arabia; specifically seeking to grant women the right to drive. I do not think it is far-fetched to appreciate the magic that Al-Hathloul sought to conjure in writing a story about a sister whom she admired, through the character of a little girl who sought to glide through life without the constraints imposed on her by invisible beings. Very unfortunately, for the adult people in this story, those imposing constraints & rules are not reinforced by the invisible, so too were they no longer for the real Loujain who put her own freedom on the line in hopes that all others might feel seen themselves.

I found this story absolutely beautiful. The illustrations themselves are phenomenal & enthralling; every stroke an absolute masterpiece. Placed as a backdrop to the text, this story presented itself as being a tale for the ages. I can very much appreciate that Al-Hathloul sought to write from what is familiar to her; her community, the situation surrounding her sister. However, this story can easily be read to children from across the globe. The desire to fly is a well-known fantasy amongst children therefore reading about another child whose community does have wings that they can use to fly would strike a cord in the hearts of many of the children who root for Loujain to have what the constraints of our current reality do not permit.

To fly in hopes of seeing the wonder of life; to fly for freedom & peace of mind; to fly across & through the beauty of the earth, I think beautifully encapsulated everything that was important in this story. It is always important to ensure that children grow to know that they can never dream a dream 'too' big, that all their desires of finding their patch of sunflowers are valid & to give them hope of being able to succeed in their goals.

Though this story takes place in a community which might differ from your own, it encourages dialogue of seeking the familiar & sustains discussions around multiculturalism as a whole, rather than ostracizing people for their differences. Therefore, I would encourage this book to be read, I would encourage the situation behind the story to be researched & for the entirety of the labour behind this story to be used as a reflection when gazing at our own society. Though many of us have heard of Icarus, we might also now hold dear the story of Loujain & her success across the expanse which is the sky.

Thank you to NetGalley, Astra Publishing House & Lina Al-Hathloul for the free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!

#LoujainDreamsOfSunflowers #NetGalley

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This wonderful fantasy story about a little girl who wants to fly, seems to fit squarely in fairy tale category. Every day, her father puts on her wings and flies above the sunflowers. When he returns, he tells his daughter Loujain about the beautiful sights he has seen and the fact that the sunflowers are best viewed from the sky. Loujain is allowed to dress up in a pair of wings, but isn't allowed to fly. The reason given, which makes no sense to the reader, is that she is a girl. However her father gives her a small crumb of hope and tells her that she cannot fly yet, but perhaps some day.

When she tells friends at school, they laugh and tell her it is impossible, because she is a girl. As a reader, I found myself puzzled for this mysterious rule, and curious if flying was a metaphor for something else? There was no background explanation for how seemingly normal people could put on wings and fly, nor a reason given for why only men could.

At the end of the book, the author's note puts a very somber spin on this story. The real Loujain has been arrested in Saudi Arabia for the transgression of driving a car while being female. Women are forbidden from many activities, especially without a chaperone. Loujain, having attended college and lived abroad, was unwilling to let these unjust laws stand. She has been punished as a terrorist and traitor. When we see this story as a fable or an allegory for women having equal rights, suddenly the tale becomes very thought-provoking and inspiring. I hope this inspires all children to question authority and stand up for what is right. I highly recommend this lovely book.

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Loujain Dreams of Sunflowers is a simple and powerful story about change and the hurdles you face if you challenge the status quo. The story is inspired by the life of Loujain who is one of the leaders in the Saudi Women's Rights Movement, who changed the law about women driving without 'guardians'. Loujain was arrested several times for driving alone but she went ahead and did it anyway. In this book, Loujain wants to fly to the sunflower fields but she is not allowed to fly because she is a girl. Will Loujain fly? and who will teach her to fly? The illustrations were also one of a kind, contrasting dull and bright colors, showing both disappointment and hope. A must-read by budding bookworms, to learn to follow their heart and challenge what is not right.

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I'll be honest, I never heard of Loujain AlHathloul before this book, but after reading this picture book, I had to research her!
It's an empowering tale about a fearless Saudi women's rights activist, a social media figure, and political prisoner who believes that no one should be deterred from their dreams, freedoms, and passions.
The illustrations are lovely and I find the book to embrace a wonderful message for readers of all ages.

Many thanks, NetGalley, Uma Mishra-Newbery, Lina Al-Hathloul herself (that was a treat), and Astra Publishing House, for the ebook for an honest exchange of my review.

I just reviewed Loujain Dreams of Sunflowers by Uma Mishra-Newbery; Lina Al-Hathloul. #LoujainDreamsofSunflowers #NetGalley

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"You know that you can't, Loujain. Girls are not allowed to fly."

"Flying" in this book stands as a metaphor for all the things that girls are not allowed to do in many cultures, governments, and countries around the world. In the story, Loujain will not be stopped - she will learn to "fly," despite flying being a boys-only activity. Add this to your list of inspirational picture books about girls + women overcoming obstacles to achieve their dreams.

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