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Reviewed by Mamta Madhavan for Readers' Favorite
Monday morning: Mrs. Smith was taking grammar in class and Oliver was listening when Mr. Maxwell walked in with a girl behind him. She was Yara, a new student from Canada, and she was fluent in Arabic, French, and had a basic knowledge of English. Mrs. Smith told the class to help her with English so that she could pick up the language quickly. All the students were curious to know where Yara lived prior to Canada. Angela was impatient to go to her desk and find out because she remembered her mother telling her that Syrian families were coming to Canada. Oliver knew she would be missing her friends back home and decided to become her friend. He and Angela rushed to Yara during the break time. This story is about Yara's emotions; how she is happy yet sad to be away from her home country, Syria.
Yara: My Friend from Syria by Alhan Rahimi throws light on the topic of refugees in a wonderful way, and Yara's pain of leaving behind her country and home are touching and tangible to young readers. Very often innocent children end up being victims of war where they have to move away from their homes to a new country and adapt to the culture and lifestyle there. The story also speaks about friendship, acceptance, and kindness in the way the students in Yara's class understand her. Anahit Aleksanyan brings the characters and the concept alive with her wonderful illustrations that make the storybook even more appealing to young readers. There will be a number of children in schools and as neighbors who will be able to connect well with Yara's story and her emotions. It is a good book for read aloud and storytelling sessions in classrooms for children to understand the importance of accepting others for who they are and being good to them.