Patricia Dunn | The Children’s Book Review | December 15, 2014
What a Wonderful World
by George David Weiss and Bob Thiele; Illustrated by Ashley Bryan
You can tell we are big Louis Armstrong fans. For my family, the books came first. What a Wonderful World was given to me when I was pregnant with my son. In utero, I read and sang this book to him. After he was born it was the only song that he wanted me to sing, or I should say it was the only song he’d let me sing. I don’t have the most melodic voice, but I loved singing this book to him so much that before he was a year old he started singing back to me. Every night before bed my son and I would sing the book four, five, seven times until he or I fell asleep. He’s 15 now and occasionally when no one else is around, he will pull What a Wonderful World from our bookshelf, and he’ll say, “Let’s sing!” Now we both sing to our dog.
We also love When Louis Armstrong Taught Me Scat and Play, Louis, Play!: The True Story of a Boy and His Horn, by Muriel Harris Weinstein.
Ages 4-8 | Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers | 1995 | ISBN-13: 978-0689800870
Day of Ahmed’s Secret
By Florence Parry Heide and Judith Heide Gilliland; Illustrated by Ted Lewin
My son’s name middle name is Ahmed. His dad is also Ahmed, and was born in Cairo, so we had to buy this book when we found it in our local bookstore. It’s a beautiful story that is told from the point of view of this young boy who sells butane after school and who keeps a wonderful secret until he gets home at the end of the story. I’d love to tell you the secret but that would be a spoiler.
Ages 4-8 | Publisher: HarperCollins | 1995 | ISBN-13: 978-0688140236
Ten Things I Hate About Me
By Randa Abdel-Fattah
Randa Abdel-Fattah’s books inspire me. Her characters are those living on the outside and trying to find where they belong, and how to love who they are and from where they are from. A lot like the themes I write about. Abdel-Fattah can make me laugh and then cry in the same paragraph. She’s brilliant.
Ages 12+ | Publisher: Orchard Books | 2009 | ISBN-13: 978-0545050555
Does My Head Look Big In This?
By Randa Abdel-Fattah
Does My Head Look Big In This? is a beautiful story about a thirteen year old Palestinian girl who lives in the West Bank and risks everything to get to Jerusalem to save her grandmother’s life. This story is about love and courage. It’s heartbreaking and humorous.
Ages 12+ | Publisher: Scholastic | 2008 | ISBN-13: 978-0439922333
The Librarian of Basra: A True Story from Iraq
By Jeanette Winter
This is a beautiful picture book based on a lovely true story. The librarian, Alia Muhammad Baker, at great personal risk, takes extraordinary measures to save the priceless collection of thirty thousand books housed within this cherished library in Basra, Iraq that was basically destroyed by the war. It’s an amazing story of courage and love and respect for knowledge that reminds us how, in our country, we take for granted the ready access we have to books. The gift of reading is so precious and fragile in many places around the world, yet we hardly even appreciate it. Not just around the world: in the US we have some community libraries that have resources to get any and all the books they want, though in too many areas the schools don’t have enough books.
Ages 4-8 | Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers | 2005 | ISBN-13: 978-0152054458
About Patricia Dunn
PATRICIA DUNN’S writing has appeared in Salon.com, The Christian Science Monitor, The Village Voice, The Nation, L.A. Weekly, and others. With an MFA in creative writing from Sarah Lawrence College, where she also works as the Director of the Writing Institute, this Bronx-raised rebel and former resident of Cairo settled in Connecticut, with her husband, teenage son, and toddler dog. Visit Patricia at patriciadunnauthor.com and @Shewrites.
Rebels by Accident
By Patricia Dunn
Mariam Just Wants to Fit In.
That’s not easy when she’s the only Egyptian at her high school and her parents are super traditional. So when she sneaks into a party that gets busted, Mariam knows she’s in trouble…big trouble.
Convinced she needs more discipline and to reconnect with her roots, Mariam’s parents send her to Cairo to stay with her grandmother, her sittu.
But Marian’s strict sittu and the country of her heritage are nothing like she imagined, challenging everything Mariam once believed.
As Mariam searches for the courage to be true to herself, a teen named Asmaa calls on the people of Egypt to protest their president. The country is on the brink of revolution—and now, in her own way, so is Mariam.
Ages 12-17 | Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire | 2014 | ISBN-13: 978-1492601388
Patricia Dunn, author of Rebels by Accident, selected her family’s five favorite books with the help of her husband Allan Tepper. Discover more articles on The Children’s Book Review tagged with Family Favorites and Diverse Books.