Book review: Leila in Saffron, by Rukhsanna Guidroz, illustrated by Dinara Mirtalipova

Guidroz, Rukhsanna. Leila in Saffron. Illustrated by Dinara Mirtalipova. Salaam Reads, 2019. $17.99. ISBN 9781534425644. Unpaged. Ages 4-8. P8 Q9

Young Leila is off to Naani’s home for their weekly family dinner. Naani greets Leila with a compliment about the saffron beads on her dress, but Leila is not sure if she likes what she sees when she looks in the mirror. Leila uses the visit to look for things she likes about herself, and finds them in her family, in the beautifully decorated Pakistani home, the meal she helps to prepare, and in the special love a grandma has for her granddaughter.  The color visuals in the book are very eye catching and immerse the reader in Pakistani culture. A glossary at the back of the book gives both the pronunciation and definition of unfamiliar words used in the story.

Verdict: A beautiful multicultural book for both the library and the classroom with an important message of self-worth that all can benefit from.

November 2019 review by Denyse Marsh.

Book review: Amal Unbound, by Aisha Saeed

Saeed, Aisha. Amal Unbound. Nancy Paulsen Books, 2018. 226 pgs. $17.9 ISBN: 978-0-399-54468-2. Gr. 6+. P8 Q9

Twelve year old Amal lives with her family in a small village in Pakistan. Amal dreams of becoming a teacher and studies hard to achieve this dream. Being the oldest in a family of girls comes with responsibilities. Her mother gives birth to a baby girl but does not rebound from the delivery. Amal must stay home taking on most of the household chores. A mishap in the streets with a local rich man puts her and her family in jeopardy. Amal’s dreams are dashed when she becomes a servant in the rich man’s home. She will be in service till he decides her debt is paid.  It is through Amal and those in service to the rich lord that the corruption is stopped and the War Lord is arrested.

Verdict: I loved this book which offers a window into the lives of the Pakistani people.

June 2018 review by Carol Bernardi.