Yara, My Friend from Syria


Children - Social Issues
31 Pages
Reviewed on 01/25/2019
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    Book Review

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.

Lieve Snellings

A book that absolute needs to be in every elementary school and library

The book is well written and the graphics are great. In fact, I love the play of the images, sometimes almost fade away, sometimes full in color. That helps to build up the narrative and bring us as readers into the story. It makes us curious who is Yara, what is happening in that school?

I was so touched by this book. The director presented the new student to the class and explained that Yara spoke 3 languages. He focused on what she can and not so, on what she cannot yet. By doing this Mr. Maxwell created two amazing effects. One is that Yara can keep her strength, she is already capable to speak three languages. And the other students and the teacher hear directly that this kid is smart, it has to be fun to be friends with her. This is so different than what we now a day hears about refugees.

Another eye opener in the book is the story about the apple tree. Or better what is behind this story of the apple tree. Alhan Rahimi brings on a brilliant way the everyday life to the readers. When Oliver wants to give his apple to Yara, this evokes so strong memories of Yara’s child years in Syria, and the author lets us testimony of that life. A nice peaceful Sunday afternoon scene under the apple tree. Suddenly we see that in fact we have much more in common with Yara, with refugees than we thought before.

If I could make one wish, it would be that this book was in every elementary class, in every library in the USA, in Canada and for sure also in Europe. ‘Yara, my friend from Syria’ is an amazing picture book. Without following a special course or class, just by reading this children’s book, we all, children as well as adults who read to their kids, start looking at refugees with other eyes, at another way. I so much, thank Alhan Rahimi for making this book because the world needs it so much.