The Arabic Quilt: An Immigrant Story

Tilbury House. Feb. 2020. 36p. Tr $17.95. ISBN 9780884487548.
K-Gr 2–Kanzi, a young Egyptian immigrant, is nervous about looking different on the first day of her new school. When Kanzi’s classmates tease her about her native language, her teacher helps Kanzi and her classmates learn the value of being bilingual and the beauty of being different through a creative class project: a paper collage quilt with all the students’ names written on it in Arabic. The story highlights the role of a supportive and creative teacher and the importance of instilling acceptance in children. “My mom says we should only speak English,” says Molly, one of the students. In response, the teacher writes the words algebra, coffee, lemon, and sugar on the board as an example to show the students how many languages share the same origin and that “knowing different languages will make the world a friendlier place.” The story ends with a powerful poem with a compelling message of taking pride in one’s mother tongue. The author includes a glossary of Arabic words with phonetics and their meaning in English.
VERDICT A timely, heartwarming story with expressive, vibrant illustrations that complement the text. This story will boost immigrant children’s morale and teach others to be more open-minded.

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