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We Are Palestinian: A Celebration of Culture and Tradition (Hardcover)
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A stunning non-fiction children’s book celebrating everything Palestinian!
BOOKSTAGANG BEST BOOK OF 2023 WINNER
From culture and food, to music and literature, We Are Palestinian is a celebration of Palestinian heritage. Brought to life by award-winning writer Reem Kassis, every spread is filled with wonderful anecdotes, fascinating facts, and memorable quotes. It is beautifully illustrated by Noha Eilouti, an emerging Palestinian-Canadian illustrator.
Discover ALL about the history of iconic Palestinian symbols like tatreez embroidery, or the inspiration behind Mahmoud Darwish's poetry. As you turn every page, you'll find yourself lost in the world of Dabke (the folk dance of Palestine) and amazed by its famous old cities; you'll try traditional food like knafeh, explore the different religions, and find out much more. Each spread of We Are Palestinian is accessible, richly inspiring, and visually stunning.
Young readers are going to love discovering more about Palestine. This is the perfect book for parents, educators, and caregivers wishing to explore new worlds of culture and custom with children!
About the Author
Reem Kassis is a Palestinian-American writer and award-winning author of two cookbooks: The Palestinian Table and The Arabesque Table. Her articles have been featured in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, the Philadelphia Inquirer, Food & Wine, Saveur and others. Although she studied business and psychology at UPenn and London School of Economics, she chose a writing career in order to preserve the traditions and stories of Palestinians for her two daughters (soon to be three!) and to share them with the world. We Are Palestinian is the first children's book.
Noha Eilouti is a Palestinian-Canadian illustrator and visual development artist, with a BSc in Multimedia Design from the American University of Sharjah.
“Reading and cooking from this essential book—a thoughtful collection of great recipes, historical and cultural insights, and beautiful photographs—will move you closer to understanding this complex, fascinating part of the world.”
— —Anthony Bourdain on The Palestinian Table
“The Arabesque Table is full to the brim with dishes which are rooted in tradition and at the same time creatively (and deliciously!) transcend it. It is wonderful!”
— —Yotam Ottolenghi on The Arabesque Table
“Anyone who is raising Palestinian children in the diaspora owes Reem Kassis a huge debt of gratitude. The acclaimed cookbook author decided to write a children’s book, she tells us in the introduction to We Are Palestinian, because she wanted to show her young daughters and all young readers ‘how beautiful their culture is and that they can take part in it and be proud of it no matter where they are in the world.’ Kassis accomplishes this—and more. This wonderful book is really a love letter to Palestine itself, describing what it is that makes Palestinians an identifiable Arab nation and imparts to children the reasons they can take pride in their culture. That foundational understanding will stand them in good stead as they grow up in what can often feel like a hostile environment. The text is arranged into seven chapters, each describing a different component of Palestine: geography, cultural symbols, specific people who make a difference, agriculture, cuisine, song and dance, and history and religion. Written for young readers ages nine years and older, every chapter includes a ‘Did You Know?’ and ‘Fun Fact’ blurb that is designed to inform, engage and inspire. Adults can learn a thing or two from them, too. The text is beautifully illustrated by Noha Eilouti, a Canadian-Palestinian visual artist whose drawings complement the text and make every single page a visual treat. Appropriately, the book begins with geography: the cities, towns and villages in which Palestinians have lived their lives over the centuries. People are rooted in specific places, and few people have had their connection to a specific geography come under sustained and relentless attack as have Palestinians. Kassis selects 11 cities and presents distinctive features of each. I was glad to see that Kassis devoted a chapter to agriculture, a tribute to Palestinian agrarian heritage. The text encourages young readers to give some thought to the richness of that tradition, which evolved over centuries of intentionally tending the land. Children need role models, and Kassis chose internationally known writers and poets such as Edward Said and Mahmoud Darwish, but also singers, artists, oud players and novelists whose names are less familiar but who have contributed substantially to Arab culture, such as novelist Sahar Khalifeh and Arab Idol singer Mohammed Assaf. Shireen Abu Akleh, a long-time Al Jazeera journalist, made international headlines when she was killed by the Israeli military in May 2022, but here Kassis’ focus is on what made Abu Akleh a role model for young girls and beloved throughout the Arab world: her determination to tell the stories of ordinary people, a purpose that overrode every other consideration. Palestine produced Abu Akleh as it did the people, places and cultural expressions celebrated in this book, and Palestinian parents now have a book to give their children that will help them appreciate their rich heritage.”
— —Washington Report on Middle East Affairs
“This wonderful book is really a love letter to Palestine itself, describing what it is that makes Palestinians an identifiable Arab nation and imparts to children the reasons they can take pride in their culture … [B]eautifully illustrated by Noha Eilouti, a Canadian-Palestinian visual artist whose drawings complement the text and make every single page a visual treat ....”
— —Washington Report on Middle East Affairs
"A Palestinian cookbook author and food writer explores her country’s rich cultural heritage. Organizing the book into seven sections, Kassis covers geography, cultural symbols, major figures, agriculture, cuisine, performing arts, and history and religion. The author discusses major cities like Jericho (arguably the world’s oldest city as well as “the lowest city on Earth, sitting 258 meters below sea level”), Akka, and Haifa, as well as significant landmarks. She explains the importance of cultural symbols like tatreez, the art of embroidery, and how these designs often tell stories. She also describes traditional garments, such as the thobe (a long-sleeved belted dress) and the keffiya (a scarf worn by men). A chapter devoted to “creative minds” profiles poet Mahmoud Darwish; Mustafa Murrar, often called “the pillar of Palestinian children’s literature”; scholar Edward Said; charity worker Samiha Khalil; and journalist and field correspondent Shireen Abu Akleh, among others. Given the author’s culinary background, it’s no surprise that food is well covered, too, from maqlubeh (a dish typically made of layers of meat, rice, and vegetables) to knafeh (a dough-based dessert). Kassis’ details are well chosen and convey her love of her homeland; fun facts and “Did you know?” sidebars enliven the engaging text. Eilouti’s bright illustrations complement the writing, portraying important landmarks in cities, capturing the cross-stitch patterns in cushions, and bringing to life examples of native plants. A joyful and accessible introduction. (index) (Nonfiction. 9-12)"
— —Kirkus Reviews
“A joyful and accessible introduction … A Palestinian cookbook author and food writer explores her country’s rich cultural heritage … Kassis covers geography, cultural symbols, major figures, agriculture, cuisine, performing arts, and history and religion … Kassis’ details are well chosen and convey her love of her homeland; fun facts and ‘Did you know?’ sidebars enliven the engaging text. Eilouti’s bright illustrations complement the writing, portraying important landmarks in cities, capturing the cross-stitch patterns in cushions, and bringing to life examples of native plants. (index) (Nonfiction. 9-12)”
— —Kirkus Reviews
"Gr 4-8–Palestine is located on the Eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea in Southern Asia. How much, though, does one know about the history and culture of this long-standing civilization? With her daughters in mind, Kassis has set out to share parts of Palestine’s culture with young readers by selecting content that would educate, excite, and engage them. Divided into seven sections, Kassis introduces readers to topics that include Palestinian cities, cultural symbols, agriculture, cuisine, performing arts, and notable people. The presented information is shared on visually appealing spreads per subject. In addition to the relevant and beautiful illustrations by Eilouti, readers will find “fun facts” and “did you know?” boxes for each topic. A table of contents and index are included. VERDICT Kassis’s love and care for the Palestinian culture are made clear through this lovely and accessible educational tool; a valuable purchase for libraries."
— —School Library Journal
“Kassis’s love and care for the Palestinian culture are made clear through this lovely and accessible educational tool; a valuable purchase … Kassis has set out to share parts of Palestine’s culture with young readers by selecting content that would educate, excite, and engage them … The presented information is shared on visually appealing spreads per subject. In addition to the relevant and beautiful illustrations by Eilouti, readers will find ‘fun facts' and ‘did you know?’ boxes for each topic.”
— —School Library Journal
“A colorful and joyful celebration of Palestinian people, places, food and culture, this is a must-have for any Palestinian family in the diaspora. For families in the rest of the world who are realizing now how little they know about Palestinians and their struggle, or know very little about Palestine beyond the news, this is an essential, illustrated encyclopedia shining a spotlight on Palestinians’ cultural heritage, culinary pride, and stories of the cities and landscape to which Palestinians have a connection ... A beautiful addition to every library and school classroom, this is 100 pages of pride in a cultural heritage under threat, and a rich tour of a landscape that means so much to so many.”
— — Ruth Ahmedzai Kemp,
“Vibrant illustrations accompany informative spotlights on culture, traditions, food, cities, and people in this beautiful celebration of Palestinian life … At a time when the news frequently mentions Palestine and Palestinian people, this welcoming book draws readers into the rich history and culture of Palestinian people. The author joyfully shares facts and stories, inviting readers to celebrate the beauty and resilience of Palestinian culture and its people … Recommended ….”
— — Children’s Literature