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Santa Claus in Baghdad and Other Stories about Teens in the Arab World Paperback – May 13, 2008


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 11 and up
  • Grade Level: 6 and up
  • Paperback: 198 pages
  • Publisher: Indiana University Press (May 13, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0253220041
  • ISBN-13: 978-0253220042
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 6 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #636,566 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 7–10—Eight short stories illuminate the experiences of adolescents in modern-day Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, Egypt, Tunisia, and Jordan, yet many of their conflicts and concerns are universal in nature. In the title story, 13-year-old Amal learns some lessons about honor, gifts, and the act of giving when her seven-year-old brother confuses their wealthy uncle with Santa Claus. Suhayl cooks a homemade meal to bring joy into the life of his divorced mother in "Faces." Other situations are unique to the Middle East. For example, Mujahhid defends a Palestinian olive grove against the occupying Israeli military in "The Olive Grove." In the stellar "Honor," a beautiful young woman faces a possible "honor killing" at the hands of her disgraced family after she is seen in public with a man. "The Plan," in which a young Palestinian refugee in Lebanon orchestrates a meeting between his older brother and his charismatic art teacher, is utterly charming. Touches of suspense, romance, and humor keep the pages turning in this fine collection. Themes of faith, loyalty, and coming-of-age are sensitively handled and compellingly depicted. Notes explain each story's historical, political, and social context. This collection is an expanded version of Figs and Fate (Braziller, 2005). It will be popular with fans of Deborah Ellis and Suzanne Fisher Staples, and will also be an excellent supplemental reading choice for world-cultures curricula.—Amy Pickett, Ridley High School, Folsom, PA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

Author Elsa Marston has written a wonderful book about the Middle East...[a] compelling collection...offers real insight into why the conflicts continue, contracts what Americans think they know and how little they really know about the causes of the conflicts from the standpoints of innocense and tragedy and perilous lives of young children clouded only by the desire for peace.

I read it and I couldn't put it down until I was finished. I hope you will read it too.

This book needs to be in every library.--Ray Hanania"Middle East Book Review and Announcements (http: //ibookreviews.blogspot.com/)" (01/01/2008)


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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on September 7, 2008
Format: Paperback
Half a world away, are children really all that different? "Santa Claus in Baghdad: And Other Stories about Teens in the Arab World" is a collection of stories that although fictional, express the real thoughts and beliefs of many Arabic Teens in the modern world. Showing the issues that Arabic students face, American readers will learn to empathize with these teens and not be scared of something they don't understand. "Santa Claus in Baghdad" is a unique anthology of stories, highly recommended to young adult readers everywhere.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Gail on January 7, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Got the book for my 14 yr-old granddaughter. She had heard of it in school and seemed delighted to receive it. She has several Indian friends and an Iranian cousin and hopes to learn more about their countries.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I chose this rating for a few reasons: the book arrived earlier than expected, in great condtion (no writing or markings) and has a really wide variety of stories. I felt like it was a good representation of the diversity within Middle Eastern cultures. The stories were moving, heartbreaking, encouraging and funny- I think teens in the U.S. (or any English speaking populations really) would appreciate the stories, and would be able to identify with many of the stories and characters within the book.
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Format: Paperback
For today's American teenager, this is a "must read". Our society is now increasingly multi-cultural while world cultures are being thrust together at an excellerating, sometimes violent rate. This means that awakening in young people a better understanding of Arabs and their culture is becoming vital.

SANTA CLAUS IN BAGHDAD does that in a non-preachy, enjoyable way. Through these stories, we dip into the lives of eight teens growing up in the Arab world. Some stories are told in first person, some in third, some from a girl's point of view, some from a boy's. The physical and cultural settings differ from each other and even more from what the average American reader knows.

However, it is the similarities linking the reader and the story characters that are most important. The young people portrayed here all share emotions and hopes that will resonate with any teen - anywhere. All are linked by the common theme of duty -- duty to one's self, to one's beliefs and to one's friends and family.

I can't praise this book enough, and wish that the adults currently managing our country had read and absorbed this book when they were young. It's message, that despite our differences we are all the same underneath, is one we all need to internalize.
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