Archive for the ‘Middle East Fiction’ Category

Middle East & South Asian Countries – Picture Books

November 16, 2013 Leave a comment

Picture books which take place in specific Middle Eastern and South Asian countries:
Afghanistan ; Armenia ; Azerbaijan ; Bahrain ; Bangladesh ; Bhutan ; British Indian Ocean Territory ; Gaza Strip ; Georgia ; India ; Iran ; Iraq ; Israel ; Jordan ; Kuwait ; Lebanon ; Maldives ; Nepal ; Oman ; Pakistan ; Qatar ; Saudi Arabia ; Sri Lanka ; Syria ; Turkey ; United Arab Emirates ; West Bank ; Yemen

MIDDLE EAST (download .doc) or MIDDLE EAST (download .pdf)


The Roses in My Carpets
by Rukhsana Khan (Holiday House 1998) 12*
When a young boy and his mother and sister come to a refugee camp to escape the war in Afghanistan, he finds some comfort in the beauty of the carpets he is learning to weave.

Caravan by Lawrence McKay (Lee & Low 1995) 15*
A ten-year-old boy accompanies his father for the first time on a caravan trip through the mountains of Afghanistan to the city below where they will trade their goods at market.

Nasreen’s Secret School: A True Story from Afghanistan by Jeanette Winter (Beach Lane 2009) 60*
Nasreen stops speaking and tries to isolate herself after the Taliban take her parents, but with the help of a good friend and a secret school, Nasreen slowly begins to break out of her shell.

Picture Book Nonfiction

Waiting for the Owl’s Call* by Gloria Whelan (Sleeping Bear 2009)
While eight-year-old Zulviya labors over a loom, weaving a rug just as generations of the women in her Turkoman family have done, she is comforted by imagining a new pattern inspired by the landscape of Afghanistan.


A Drop of Honey: An Armenian Tale
by Djemma Bider (Simon & Schuster 1989) 19
After being bad-tempered with her brothers, Anayida falls asleep and dreams of the terrible things that can happen because of the spilling of a single drop of honey.

The Golden Bracelet by David Kherdian (Holiday House 1998) 26*
In order to win the hand of his love, indolent Prince Haig learns to weave beautiful golden cloth, a craft that later saves his life.

A Weave of Words: An Armenian Tale by Robert D. San Souci (Orchard 1998) 74*
A reworking of Armenian folktales in which a lazy prince learns to read, write, and weave to win his love only to have these very talents later save him from a three-headed monster.

The Contest by Nonny Hogrogian (Greenwillow 1976) 73*
An Armenian folktale about two robbers courting the same woman.


Kamal’s Quest
by Cynthia Profilet (Sterling 1993) 1
Tells the story of a camel (Kamal), who searches for love and friendship in the desert country of Bahrain.


Sacred River by Ted Lewin (Clarion, 1994)
Introduces the river where millions of Hindu pilgrims go to purify their souls and find salvation.

Yasmin’s Hammer by Ann Malaspina (Lee & Low 2010) 13
In Dhaka, Bangladesh, as two girls work hard all day to help support their family by chipping bricks into small pieces, older sister Yasmin seeks a way to attend school and learn to read so that she can have a better life one day. Includes author’s note about conditions in Bangladesh, child labor, and how to help.

Twenty-Two Cents: Muhammad Yunus and the Village Bank by Paula Yoo (Lee & Low, 2014)
A biography of Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammad Yunus, who from a young age was determined to make difference in the world and eventually revolutionized global antipoverty efforts by developing the innovative economic concept of micro-lending. Includes an afterword and author’s sources. Biography


Anni’s India Diary
by Alan Axworthy (Whispering Coyote 1992)
A ten-year-old’s diary entries chronicle the magical sights and sounds she and her family encounter as they explore India.

The Birdman by Veronika Martenova Charles (Tundra 2006)
When his family dies suddenly, Noor Nobi, a humble tailor in Calcutta, India, finds a way to mend his broken heart by purchasing, healing, and releasing illegally caged birds. Based on a true story.

The Road to Mumbai by Ruth Jeyabeeran (Houghton Mifflin 2004)
Shoba and her pet monkey, Fuzzy Patel, set out overnight by flying bed to attend Fuzzy’s cousin’s wonderful wedding in Mumbai, India.

Monsoon by Uma Krishnaswami (Farrar 2003)
A child describes waiting for the monsoon rains to arrive and the worry that they will not come.

The Poombah of Badoombah by Dee Lillegard (Putnam’s 1998)
When the powerful but mischievous Poombah of Badoombah finally takes things a bit too far, he is forced to flee the city and live out the rest of his days in the quiet of the countryside.

Baya, Baya, Lulla-by-a* by Megan McDonald (Atheneum 2003)
As a mother in rural India sings to her baby, a weaverbird builds a nest for its young.

Rikki-Tikki-Tavi* illustrated by Jerry Pinkney (Morrow 1997)
A courageous mongoose thwarts the evil plans of Nag and Nagaina, two big black cobras who live in the garden.

The Rumor* by Anushka Ravishankar, illustrated by Kanyika Kini (Tundra, 2012, c2009)
When ill-tempered Panduran tries to keep a secret from his gossiping neighbors in the village of Baddbaddpur, the rumor that results spins wildly out of control, until even Panduran is amused.

Tiger on a Tree* by Anushka Ravishankar, illustrated by Pulak Biswas (Farrar Straus Giroux, 2004)
After trapping a tiger in a tree, a group of men must decide what to do with it.

The Wheels on the Tuk Tuk* by Kabir Sehgal, illustrated by Jess Golden (Beach Lane, 2015)
In this twist on the classic song “The Wheels on the Bus,” the wheels on the tuk tuk go round and round all over the city in India.

The Sanyasin’s First Day by Ned Shank (Cavendish 1999)
Describes the first day of work for several different people including a holy man, a farmer, a plumber, and a policeman, many of whom end up interacting with one another in the course of a day.

Monsoon Afternoon by Kashmira Sheth (Peachtree 2008)
A young boy and his grandfather find interesting things to do on one rainy day during monsoon season.

In Andal’s House* by Gloria Whelan, illustrated by Amanda Hall (Sleeping Bear, 2013)
Kumar, a young boy living in present-day India, faces bigotry when he goes to visit a classmate from a higher caste family.

Historical & Biographical Fiction

A Taste of Freedom: Gandhi and the Great Salt March* by Elizabeth Cody Kimmel (Walker Books, 2014)
An old man in India recalls how, when he was a young boy, he got his first taste of freedom as he and his brother joined the great Muhatma Gandhi on a march to the sea to make salt in defiance of British law.–

Selvakumar Knew Better* by Virginia L. Kroll (Shen’s Books 2006)
When a giant tsunami approaches his village, seven-year-old Dinakaran is saved by the family dog. Based on a true story; includes facts about the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.

The Nine Animals and the Well* by James Rumford (Houghton 2003)
A fable about a group of animals which strives to bring the perfect present to the Indian raja-king’s birthday party. Discusses how the numerals we use originated in India.


The Old Woman and the Red Pumpkin: A Bengali Folk Tale* by Betsy Bang, illustrated by Molly Bang (Macmillan, 1975)
A retelling of an Indic folktale in which a skinny old woman outwits the jackal, bear, and tiger who want to eat her.

The Story of Little Babaji* by Helen Bannerman (Farrar 1996)
A retelling of the well-known tale in which a little Indian boy finally outwits the succession of tigers that want to eat him.

In the Heart of the Village: The World of the Indian Banyan Tree* by Barbara Bash (Sierra Club, 1996)
Describes the importance of a banyan tree to an Indian village.

The Blue Jackal* by Marcia Brown (Scribner, 1977)
A timid jackal becomes king of the forest by virtue of his extraordinary color.

Pattan’s Pumpkin: A Traditional Flood Story from Southern India* by Soundar Chitra, illustrated by Frané Lessac (Candlewick, 2017)
Pattan has an amazing pumpkin. It grows bigger than the goats, bigger than the elephants… so BIG that it is as TALL as the mountains. Then one day, the storm clouds burst and the waters rise. Pattan, his family, and all the animals are in danger from the momentous flood. Can Pattan and his giant pumpkin save the day? Based on a traditional tale told by the Irula people of southern India.

The Hallowed Horse: A Folktale from India* by Demi (Dodd, Mead, 1987)
The young king of India searches for a Hallowed Horse to protect his kingdom from the evil Kaliya, the Multi-Headed Snake.

Grandma and the Great Gourd: A Bengali Folk Tale* by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, illustrated by Susy Pilgrim Waters (Roaring Brook, 2013)
On her way to visit her daughter on the other side of the jungle, Grandma encounters a hungry fox, bear, and tiger, and although she convinces them to wait for her return trip, she still must find a way to outwit them all.

The Monkey and the Crocodile: A Jataka Tale from India* by Paul Galdone (Seabury Press, 1969)
A retelling of one of the Indian fables relating to the former births of Buddha in which as a monkey he manages to outwit the crocodile who decides to capture him.

The Tiger and the Brahmin* by Brian Gleeson, illustrated by Kurt Vargö (Rabbit Ears, 1992)
A Brahmin deceived by a hungry tiger is saved by a lowly jackal and encounters a lesson he has never found in his holy books. Includes an audio cassette with dialogue and music.

The Ringdoves: From the Fables of Bidpai* by Gloria Kamen (Atheneum, 1988)
In this Indian fable about loyalty and friendship, several animals band together to elude the hunter.

The Brave Little Parrot* by Rafe Martin, illustrated by Susan Gaber (Putnam’s, 1998)
Because the brave little parrot does the thing that comes from its heart as it takes precious drops of water to the burning forest, things change in ways no one could imagine.

The Valiant Chattee-Maker: A Folktale of India* by Christine Price (F. Warne, 1965)

The Blind Men and the Elephant* by John Godfrey Saxe, illustrated by Paul Galdone (Whittlesey House, 1963)
In this rhyming version of the tale, each of the blind wise men grab a different part of the elephant and come to different conclusions as to what the beast looks like.

Rama and the Demon King: An Ancient Tale from India* by Jessica Souhami (DK Ink, 1997)
An Indian folktale about how Prince Rama rescues his wife from the evil demon king.

The Elephant’s Friend: And Other Tales from Ancient India* by Marcia Williams (Candlewick, 2012)
Draws eight stories from well-known collections of Indian folktales–Hitopadesha tales, Jataka tales, and Panchantra tales–and presents them with cartoon-like illustrations.

Picture Book Nonfiction

Gandhi* by Demi (McElderry, 2001)
Presents the story of the great leader who succeeded in bringing about social and political change in India through nonviolent means.

Mother Teresa* by Demi (McElderry, 2005)
A biography of Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu, known as Mother Teresa, who spent most of her life serving “the poorest of the poor” in Calcutta, India.

Grandfather Gandhi* by Arun Gandhi and Bethany Hegedus, illustrated by Evan Turk (Atheneum, 2012)
Mahatma Gandhi’s grandson tells the story of how his grandfather taught him to turn darkness into light in this uniquely personal and vibrantly illustrated tale that carries a message of peace.

Gandhi: A March to the Sea* by Alice B. McGinty, illustrated by Thomas Gonzalez (Amazon, 2013)
Recreates Mohandas Gandhi’s 24-day March to the Sea, from March 12 to April 5, 1930, which became a pivotal moment in India’s quest to become an independent country no longer ruled by Great Britain.

East Indian Americans

Elephant Dance: Memories of India* by Theresa Heine, illustrated by Sheila Moxley (Barefoot Books, 2004)
Grandfather tells many stories about his native India in answer to Ravi and Anjali’s questions, such as the tale of a procession of elephants on the feast of Divaali when he was a boy. Includes facts about life in India, a list of cooking spices, and descriptions of Indian animals.


Ali and the Magic Stew
by Shulamith Levey Oppenheim, illustrated by Winslow Pels (Boyds Mills 2002)
Ali, a spoiled, selfish boy, son of a wealthy Persian merchant, treats everyone with disdain until his beloved father falls ill and he must seek help from a beggar to obtain the ingredients for a stew to relieve the suffering.

Historical & Biographical Fiction

The Earth Shook: A Persian Tale by Donna Jo Napoli (Hyperion 2009) 15
Little Parisa-Farsi, left alone after an earthquake demolishes her home of Bam, Iran, inspires the animals around her to put aside their differences and revel in the simple delights that unite them.


The Stone: A Persian Legend of the Magi* by Dianne Hofmeyr, illustrated by Jude Daly (Farrar Straus Giroux, 1998)
A retelling of the story told to Marco Polo about the Magi of Saveh, three wise men from a town in Persia, who followed a strange star and find a special child.

The Secret Message: Based on a Poem by Rumi* by Mina Javaherbin, illustrated by Bruce Whatley (Disney/Hyperion, 2010)
In this retelling of a Persian folktale attributed to Jalaledin Rūmī , a parrot tricks a wealthy merchant into setting him free.

Iranian Americans

Mystery Bottle* by Kristen Balouch (Hyperion, 2006)
What happens when a boy and his grandfather are separated from each other by borders, politics, and distance? The mystery bottle unites the two through an extraordinary gift. The bond of their love.


The Girl Who Lost Her Smile
by Karim Alrawi, illustrated by Stefan Czernecki (Winslow 2000)
A story about a young Persian girl who unexpectedly finds reason to smile, inspired by the writings of Jallal al -Din Rumi in a collection of Sufi poetry and short stories known as Mathnawi.

Historical & Biographical Fiction

Silent Music: A Story of Baghdad* by James Rumford (Roaring Brook, 2008)
As bombs and missiles fall on Baghdad in 2003, a young boy uses the art of calligraphy to distance himself from the horror of war.


Lugalbanda: The Boy Who Got Caught up in a War* by Kathy Henderson, illustrated by Jane Ray (Candlewick, 2006)
An ancient Sumerian tale about the youngest and weakest of eight brothers who, caught up in an ill-advised war, uses his wits and courage and eventually becomes king.

Picture Book Nonfiction

The Librarian of Basra: A True Story from Iraq* by Jeanette Winter (Harcourt, 2005)
Alia Muhammad Baker is a librarian in Basra, Iraq. For fourteen years, the library where she works has been a meeting place for those who love books. Until now. Now war has come, and Alia fears that the library–along with the thirty thousand books within it–will be destroyed forever. In a war-stricken country where civilians–especially women–have little power, this true story about a librarian’s struggle to save her community’s priceless collection of books reminds us all how, throughout the world, the love of literature and the respect for knowledge know no boundaries.

The World is Not a Rectangle: A Portrait of Architect Zaha Hadid* by Jeanette Winter (Beach Lane, 2017)
A biography of architect Zaha Hadid, who grew up in Baghdad and went on to design buildings all over the world. She became one of the most irreverent, controversial, and celebrated architects in the world.


Behold the Trees*
by Sue Alexander, illustrated by Leonid Gore (Scholastic 2001)
A land once protected by all sorts of wonderful trees is reduced over time by war and environmental neglect to desert, until new inhabitants plant trees and slowly make Israel bloom again.

Chicken Man* by Michelle Edwards (Lothrop 1991)
Each time Chicken Man is moved into a new job on the kibbutz, someone else wants to take that job instead, and the chickens suffer as a consequence.

First Rain* by Charlotte Herman, illustrated by Kathy Mitter (Albert Whitman, 2010)
When Abby moves with her family to Israel, where it does not rain all summer, she misses her grandmother and remembers the fun they used to have splashing in puddles together.

Picture Book Nonfiction

Masada* by Neil Waldman (Morrow, 1998)
Discusses the history of Masada, from the building of Herod’s Temple through its use by Zealots as a refuge from the Romans to its rediscovery in the mid-20th century.


Historical & Biographical Fiction

Sami and the Time of the Troubles* by Florence Parry Heide & Judith Heide Gilliland, illustrated by Ted Lewin (Clarion, 1992)
A ten-year-old Lebanese boy goes to school, helps his mother with chores, plays with his friends, and lives with his family in a basement shelter when bombings occur and fighting begins on his street.


Little Dog Moon* by Maxine Trottier, illustrated by Laura Fernandez (Stoddart Kids, 2000)
Although she is little, Moon, a Tibetan terrier, guides two refugee children over the mountains from Tibet to Nepal.

I, Doko: The Tale of a Basket* by Ed Young (Philomel 2004)
A Nepalese basket tells the story of its use through three generations of a family.

Picture Book Nonfiction

Tiger of the Snows, Tenzing Norgay: The Boy Whose Dream was Everest* by Robert Burleigh, illustrated by Ed Young (Atheneum, 2006)
Describes the first successful climb to the top of Mount Everest by the Sherpa Tenzing Norkey and Sir Edmund Hillary in 1953.


King for a Day* by Rukhsana Khan (Lee & Low, 2013)
Even though he is confined to a wheelchair, a Pakistani boy tries to capture the most kites during Basant, the annual spring kite festival, and become “king” for the day. Includes an afterword about the Basant festival.

Ruler of the Courtyard* by Rukhsana Khan (Viking 2003)
After confronting what she believes to be a snake in the bath house, Saba finds the courage to overcome her fear of the chickens in the courtyard.

Silly Chicken* by Rukhsana Khan (Viking 2005)
In Pakistan, Rani believes that her mother loves their pet chicken Bibi more than she cares for her, until the day that a fluffy chick appears and steals Rani’s own affections.

The Carpet Boy’s Gift* by Pegi Deitz Shea (Tilbury House, 2003)*
Yearning for freedom and schooling for himself and the other children who toil in a carpet factory in Pakistan to repay loans from the factory owner to their parents, Nadeem is inspired by a former carpet boy named Iqbal to lead the way.

Four Feet, Two Sandals* by Karen Lynn Williams & Khadra Mohammed, illustrated by Doug Chayka (Eerdmans, 2007)
Two young Afghani girls living in a refugee camp in Pakistan share a precious pair of sandals brought by relief workers. Includes author’s note about refugees.


The Gifts of Wali Dad: A Tale of India and Pakistan by Aaron Shepard (Atheneum, 1995)
An Indian/Pakistani folktale in which an impoverished grass-cutter finds that gifts can be a mixed blessing.

Picture Book Nonfiction

Malala: Activist for Girls’ Education* by Raphaële Frier, illustrated by Aurélia Fronty (Charlesbridge, 2017)
Malala Yousafzai stood up to the Taliban and fought for the right for all girls to receive an education. When she was just fifteen-years old, the Taliban attempted to kill Malala, but even this did not stop her activism. At age eighteen Malala became the youngest person to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her work to ensure the education of all children around the world.

Listen to the Wind: The Story of Dr. Greg and Three Cups of Tea* by Greg Mortenson (Dial 2009)
Tells the true story of a man who became lost and delirious after an unsuccessful trek to the top of K2, was saved by the locals of a remote Himalayan village, and kept his vow to return one day to build them a new school as a gesture of sincere appreciation and gratitude for what they did for him in his time of need.

Malala, a brave girl from Pakistan/Iqbal, a brave boy from Pakistan* by Jeanette Winter (Beach Lane, 2014)
rofiles two Pakistani child heroes and human rights activists–Iqbal, who was executed for speaking out against child slavery, and Malala, who survived being shot after defending the rights of girls to attend school.

Pakistani Americans

Nadia’s Hands* by Karen English (Boyds Mills, 1999)
A Pakistani-American girl takes part in her aunt’s traditional Pakistani wedding.

Big Red Lollipop* by Rukhsana Khan (Viking, 2010)
Having to take her younger sister along the first time she is invited to a birthday party spoils Rubina’s fun, and later when that sister is asked to a party and baby sister wants to come, Rubina must decide whether to help.


When the Rain Comes
by Alma Fullerton (Pajama Press, 2017)
Malini, a young girl in a small Sri Lankan community, is anxious about the responsibility of helping with the monsoon-season rice planting for the first time. When a flash flood leaves her stranded alone with the ox cart full of rice seedlings, she summons unexpected courage to calm the ox and save her town’s rice crop.

Tea Leaves by Frederick Lipp (Mondo 2003) 1
Nine-year-old Shanti, who lives in the mountains of Sri Lanka, has her wish come true when her Uncle Nochi takes her to see the Indian Ocean.

The Umbrella Thief by Sybil Wettasinghe (Kane/Miller, 1987)
When each of the umbrellas he brings back to his village disappears, Kiri Mama devises a plan to track down the thief.


The Quail’s Egg: A Folk Tale from Sri Lanka by Joanna Troughton (Peter Bedrick, 1988)
Presents a cummulative folk tale about a mother quail’s efforts to recover her egg after it rolls into the crevice of a rock. Folklore


My Beautiful Birds* by Suzanne Del Rizzo (Pajama Press, 2017)
Sam spends his day in the refugee camp worrying about the pet pigeons he was forced to leave behind when fleeing his home, from the Syrian Civil War.

Tomorrow by Nadine Kaadan (Lantana, 2018)
Yazan no longer goes to the park to play, and he no longer sees his friend who lives next door. Everything around him is changing. His parents sit in front of the television with the news turned up LOUD and Yazan’s little red bike leans forgotten against the wall. Will he ever be able to go outside and play?

Stepping Stones: A Refugee Family’s Journey* by Margriet Ruurs, illustrated by Nizar Ali Badr (Orca, 2016)
In this picture book, a young girl and her family are forced to flee their village to escape the civil war that has engulfed Syria and make their way toward freedom in Europe.

The Storyteller of Damascus by Rafik Schami, illustrated by Peter Knorr (Crocodile Books, 2018)

Syrian Americans

Spectacularly Beautiful: A Refugee’s Story by Lisa Lucas, illustrated by Laurie Stein (Pow!, 2018)
A young refugee living in America learns to see herself as beautiful, in spite of physical and emotional scars from her troubled homeland, thanks to a gifted teacher.


A Donkey Reads
by Muriel Mandell (Star Bright 2011)
In a small village in Anatolia, even the poorest villager is expected to pay tribute to a tyrranical Mongol ruler, but the wiseman, Nasreddin Hoca, finds a way to make an aged donkey seem most valuable.


The Hungry Coat: A Tale from Turkey by Demi (Margaret McElderry 2004)
After being forced to change to a fancy new coat to attend a party, Nasrettin Hoca tries to feed his dinner to the coat, reasoning that it was the coat that was the invited guest.

Nabeel’s New Pants: An Eid Tale by Fawzia Gilani-Williams (Cavendish 2010)
While buying gifts for his family to wear to the mosque on Eid a shoemaker is persuaded to get new pants for himself, but the only pair available is too long and no one seems to have time to shorten them.

Goha, the Wise Fool by Denys Johnson-Davies (Philomel 2005)
A collection of fourteen tales about the folk hero Nasreddin Hoca, also known as Goha, a man with a reputation for being able to answer difficult questions in a clever way.

The Deliverance of Dancing Bears by Elizabeth Stanley (Kane/Miller 2003)
A captive bear in Turkey, abused by her master and made to dance for money, longs in vain to return to the wild, until she encounters an old man whose dream is to set her and other captive animals free.

Hilili and Dilili: A Turkish Silly Tale* by Barbara K Walker, illustrated by Bill Barss (Follett, 1965)

Just Say Hic! : A Turkish Silly Tale* by Barbara K. Walker, illustrated by Don Bolognese (




Joha Makes a Wish: A Middle Eastern Tale* by Eric A. Kimmel, illustrated by Omar Rayyan (Marshall Cavendish, 2010)
An original story, based on the Joha tales of the Arabic-speaking world, in which a hapless man finds a wishing stick that brings him nothing but bad luck. Includes an author’s note about the history of Joha tales.