Thursday, January 22, 2015

Palestinian Childhoods

Tasting the Sky: a Palestinian Childhood by Ibtisam Barakat


This book was gut-wrenching. Talk about putting yourself in someone else's shoes and walking around in them. Unless you were 3-year-old Ibtisam Barakat.  Then you have to walk barefoot in her tracks.  She was too young to tie her own shoes, and it was too dark for her to find her other shoe when her family fled, leaving her behind when enemy tanks invaded Ramallah in 1967, soldiers shooting over her head. Barakat relates a heart-breaking story of a family's survival in the midst of cruel and unsettling (literally, unsettling) circumstances without villianizing any people group. What she tells is her story, but its more than just plot. She's artfully crafted a narrative that pays tribute to the gift of language, which was for her the gift of empowerment. She uses a language, based on a common mother-tongue, to pose questions of national boundaries versus common ancestry, and whether language can bring hope and refuge.

Awards & Honors for Tasting the Sky:

Arab-American National Museum Book Award for Children’s/YA Literature

“Careful choice of episodes and details brings to life a Palestinian world that may be unfamiliar to American readers, but which they will come to know and appreciate.”
--Kathleen Isaacs, School Library Journal Review

“Ibtisam’s reverence for language informs nearly everything she does, and it keeps her alive, whether corresponding with her pen pals or crafting this memoir: ‘a thread/of a story/stitches together/a wound.’”
--Publisher’s Weekly Review

“What makes the memoir so compelling is the immediacy of the child’s viewpoint, which depicts both conflict and daily life without exploitation or sentimentalilty.”
--Hazel Rochman, Booklist

Vital Stats:
Tasting the Sky: a Palestinian Childhood by Ibtisam Barakat
Harrisonburg, VA: RR Donnelley & Sons, 2007.
ISBN 9780374357337

A Little Piece of Ground by Elizabeth Laird with Sonia Nimr


An interesting story about life within the confines of occupied Palestine, in this young adult novel three boys from Ramallah unite to clear away a piece of land for a soccer field between curfews, only to realize that their dream may never hold. A Little Piece of Ground explores the human cost of the occupation of Palestinian lands through the eyes of 12-year-old boys Karim, Jony and Hopper. In response to a Palestinian suicide bombing, curfews are tightened again, and Karim who gets caught outside takes shelter in an abandoned car right under the nose of enemy soldiers, wondering if he will survive.

Rewards & Honors for A Little Piece of Ground:

A Little Piece of Ground deserves serious attention and discussion.”
--Coop Renner, School Library Journal Review

“The heartbreaking personal drama visualizes the realistic challenges of wartime life at home, as well as the diversity of opinion about religion, class, and politics in the community.”
--Hazel Rochman, Booklist

Vital Stats:
A Little Piece of Ground by Elizabeth Laird with Sonia Nimr
Chicago: Haymarket, 2006.
ISBN 9781931859387  

Further Resources for Understanding (from the Appendix of Tasting the Sky):

Promises, a film by Justine Shapiro, B.Z. Goldbert and Carlos Bolado)

Seeds of Peace

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