This is a buoyant book, organized by month, celebrating the things Arab kids make and the time they spend with family and friends. As the flyleaf says, it is a portrait “of the rich culture and the blend of old and new that exists throughout the Arab diaspora.”
January finds a family observing New Year’s Eve by naming the Arabic stars in the sky. June observes the children harvesting wild grapevines to help their “moms and aunties roll them” for warak enab. In October, the kids are eating pomegranates in the bathtub to contain the mess (why have I never thought of this?)
Leave it to Cathy Camper, a children’s librarian, to write a picture book text that is liltingly lovely to read out loud. And I learned so much! I immediately wanted to take part in what everyone’s doing.
The illustrations by Sawsan Chalabi are cartoon-like and joyful. She’s chosen an engaging color palette and shapes we associate with Arabic cultures: arches, symbols, text, and tiles.
A Notes and Glossary section explains in friendly detail terms such as Eid Mubarak, henna, Arab Spring, and Umm Kulthum.
The Author’s Note helps us understand the rich diversity of Arabs, who live in many places, speak many languages, share their faith in many religions (or are nonreligious), eat many foods, and observe many holidays and festivals.
Highly recommended for storytimes, home bookshelves, and classroom libraries.
Arab Arab All Year Long!
written by Cathy Camper
illustrated by Sawsan Chalabi
Candlewick Press, 2022
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