Banana Dream

Holiday House/Neal Porter. Jul. 2023. 32p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780823451005.
PreS-Gr 3–In postwar Iraq, Mooz gets teased about his name. With more than one family member named Ali or Mohammad, he is the only Mooz, and it means banana. When Mooz finds out the story behind his name, however, he feels proud and more resilient to the teasing. The modern, cartoonish artwork lends an air of humor to the story and almost has a street art feel to it. The highly detailed pictures will give readers a peek at an Iraqi cityscape and how it may differ from their own. The setting of the story can also provide some inroads for the experiences of others: the story occurs during and after the Gulf War, when sanctions heavily impacted how most people lived. This is an easily relatable book with a setting that makes it a solid choice for a lesson in compare and contrast.
VERDICT A good picture book choice for libraries needing stories to help young readers build empathy and understanding of other cultures as well as connecting to their own experiences.

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