From School Library Journal
Gr 4–8—In 2012, Al Mansour directed the film Wadjda and made history by becoming the first female Saudi Arabian filmmaker to shoot a full-length movie; here, she adapts her successful work for a middle grade audience, with mixed results. Hewing close to the original film, Al Mansour tells the story of Wadjda, a rebellious and snarky 11-year-old Saudi Arabian girl. In a society that prizes modesty and piety in women, Wadjda clashes with authority: fiercely independent, she talks back to adults, listens to Western music, and yearns for a green bicycle she sees in a toy store. When her wayward habits land her in trouble yet again, she decides to go in a new direction by taking part in her school's Koran competition—in order to obtain the prize money and purchase the coveted bike. Wadjda is a well-executed character: despite her feisty nature, she's vulnerable and flawed, and her story will resonate with boys and girls alike. However, whereas in Wadjda, striking visual imagery conveyed the girl's desire for freedom, here, Al Mansour relies on often-clunky prose to describe every action, thought, or emotion. The author often pauses to explain the cultural context of various elements of Saudi culture (the significance of the veil, the concept of a second wife), which provides helpful background for readers unfamiliar with the region but feels purposeful and overwritten compared with the far more artful film. VERDICT The original source material wins out here; however, those seeking to introduce students to Saudi Arabian culture should consider this title.—Mahnaz Dar, School Library Journal
"A winningly told story of struggle, solidarity, and optimism."—Kirkus Reviews
"Wadjda is a well-executed character: despite her feisty nature, she’s vulnerable and flawed, and her story will resonate with boys and girls alike."—School Library Journal
"Al Mansour’s debut novel is a revelatory glimpse into a culture unfamiliar to many American readers."—Booklist
"This novel has a cinematic sense of place...accessibly written and stealthily gripping."—Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
"Fans of feisty protagonists will love this book and root for Wadjda from beginning to end."—School Library Connection This middle grade novel is based on the acclaimed film Wadjda!
“A slyly subversive delight.”—Dana Stevens, Slate.com
“Wadjda is something rare.”—The Village Voice
“Guaranteed to charm.”—Variety
“Lively and sly... a cultural thunderclap."—NPR.orgFrom the Hardcover edition.