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Day of Ahmed's Secret Paperback – April 25, 1995


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this admirable introduction to life in an alien culture, readers are whisked to the busy streets of Cairo--where young Ahmed is making his daily rounds on a donkey cart, delivering large canisters of butane gas. The city is presented through his eyes, and text and illustration work together in harmony to produce a sense of place so vivid that readers can almost hear the cry of vendors in the crowded marketplace and feel the heat rising from the streets. On this particular day, Ahmed carries a secret with him (he has learned to write his name in Arabic), one children will enjoy trying to guess. The authors have produced fluid prose, and Lewin's sensitive, luminous watercolors hint at the mystery and timelessness of this exotic city. Ages 6-9.
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From School Library Journal

Ahmed has monumental news to share with his family, but first he must complete the age-old duties of a butagaz boy, delivering cooking gas to customers all over Cairo. The juxtapo sition of old and new is a repeated theme in Heide and Gilliland's thought ful story of a young boy living in the bustling metropolis surrounded by thousand-year-old walls and buildings. His philosophical musings as he steers his donkey cart on his appointed rounds could be those of any youngster, living in any age, waiting for the appropriate moment to share his special secret. En hanced by Lewin's distinguished pho torealistic watercolors, the sights, sounds, and smells of the exotic setting come to life. Sweeping double-page spreads reveal the sun-bleached streets, pedestrians bearing all manner of bundles, and colorful market stalls. At home at last, surrounded by his lov ing family, Ahmed demonstrates his newly acquired facility, proudly writing his name in Arabic. Life goes on in the hectic, noisy cities of the world regard less of a day's news and yet, the bound less energy and promise of youth rein force the ideal that anything is possible. Ahmed's story is a joyful celebration of that spirit.
-Luann Toth, School Library Journal
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 4 - 8 years
  • Grade Level: 1 - 4
  • Lexile Measure: 810L (What's this?)
  • Paperback: 32 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins; 1st Mulberry ed edition (April 25, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0688140238
  • ISBN-13: 978-0688140236
  • Product Dimensions: 10.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #468,588 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Henrietta R. C. Blyden on February 5, 2000
Format: Hardcover
An especially beautiful and thought-provoking book. The story transports us to Cairo, Egypt, where we are invited to observe a day in the life of a young Egyptian boy who sells gas canisters to help his family, all the while, harboring a secret. A must read if you are interested in learning about other cultures, and about the lives of millions of children around the world. The authors capture the culture, a sense of the language (poetic), the spirit of the people, as well as their philosophy of life. We even get some idea of the geography and history of Egypt; and all of this in a children's book. This is truly an wholistic piece of work. The illustrator does a marvelous job of capturing the sights and colors of Cairo. I have been so impressed by this book as to have recommended it to countless students and teachers in the school system where I teach. I have even been moved to write and thank the authors, who graciously responded.

I would also highly recommend the authors' other two books in this trilogy of stories set in the Middle East: 'The House of Wisdom' set in ninth-century Baghdad, Iraq (poetic), and 'Sami and the Time of the Troubles' set in modern day Lebanon. [Read an interview with the authors in November 1999 issue of 'Book Links' magazine.]
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 16, 1999
Format: Paperback
I love this book because it conveys better than any book I've seen the magic of the breakthrough to literacy. The excitement of this working class boy who will now embark upon a whole new world because he has the first tool captures a precious moment in every child's life - and all this is accomplished with a text and illustrations that are bright and alive.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 2, 1998
Format: Library Binding
I loved this book. it is amazing. the words are lovely, the plot enchanting, and the illustrations are superb. if you can avoid it, don't let anyone tell you ahmed's secret until you can read it for yourself. it's well worth reading the whole thing to find it.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Jedidiah Carosaari VINE VOICE on April 15, 2002
Format: Paperback
I came across this book at the Dearborn Arab-American Festival, the largest Arab festival in North America. And I'm so glad I did. Vivid illustrations, and an engrossing storyline. Heide reveals a very realistic Cairo street life, unknown to most Western adults, and here very easy for kids to relate to through the eyes of the young child, Ahmed. I smiled as I read and saw different scenes, like the rose-water man, and remembered walking through Cairo and seeing these very people. The scenes are gritty- not white-washed, yet also very relationally connected, with people caring for each other and showing true hospitality, the hallmark of Egyptian life. This child isn't a terrorist; it's a young child; it's real life. When he finally reveals his secret, it's the joy of a child first learning to read, just like any Western or American child. But he's also truly Egyptian- he presents his name in Arabic.

After we read this, I and the children in the library learned to write our names in Arabic, and then we *had* to get some rosewater ice cream, in order to fully immerse ourselves in the book. If you can get ahold of it, I highly recommend!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By AWAIR Reviews on May 15, 2011
Format: Paperback
Lavishly illustrated. Throughout the bustling city of today's Cairo, young Ahmed rides his donkey cart, past buildings a thousand years old. The sights and sounds of the city fill the day, and when at last Ahmed hurries home, young readers will be excited to learn the secret Ahmed has been waiting to share with his family - he has learned to write his name!

Teachers/Librarians: wonderful for K - 6th grades. Those 5th and 6th graders would love seeing how their name looks written in the Arabic script. Ask an Arab parent or someone in your community to do this for your class, or send your class set of names (first names only) to this reviewer and I'll write them out, scan them and send them back to you. (Include your grade level and name/location of school please.)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By D. Holifield on March 1, 2006
Format: Paperback
This is a very sweet book. This multicultural book welcomes the reader into Ahmed's life through the first person point of view. The illustrations are a wanderful compliment to the words. The reader meets the city in which Ahmed lives, the people who surround him, and his family values which are easily related to children's lives. I read with anticipation wandering what the secret could be. I closed this book with a smile on my face.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Michael T. Williams on October 11, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is well written and illustrated and will always be a constant reminder of my days living and working in Egypt. I have gladly shared this book with many of my friends and colleagues and will continue to do so. Proud to add it to my collection of memorabilia of my life in Egypt.
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Format: Paperback
This book is an excellent choice for the study of multicultural issues in elementary school. Ahmed is a boy who lives in Cairo, Egypt and he uses a donkey cart to deliver cans of fuel. He is proud of the fact that he can handle the donkey by himself and carry the cans up the stairs unaided.
The story is a chronology of one of his days delivering his goods. He recites the people he sees every day as well as the sights and sounds of the streets of Cairo. The time setting appears to be in the 1950's or 1960's. There are cars on the streets and they appear to be of that age. Ahmed and his father also briefly discuss the desert and the Nile River, the two geographical features that make Egypt what it is.
This day is also a bit special for Ahmed, for when the day is done, he reveals the exciting news that he has been saving for his family, the fact that he can write his name. Ahmed is simultaneously an ordinary and extraordinary Arab boy, just like all other boys around the world. Children of other cultures will learn much from reading about him.
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