Thursday, September 10, 2020

The Day Saida Arrived

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The Day Saida Arrived by Susana Gomez Redondo, illustrated by Sonja Wimmer, translated from Spanish by Lawrence Schimel. Ages 4-9. Blue Dot Kids Press, September 15, 2020. 

The day Saida arrived, our narrator knew they would be good friends, but there was one problem. Saida's words appeared to be lost. Looking high and low, those words can't be found until our narrator takes her problem to her father. He explains that Saida has words, but her Arabic words don't work here, just the way his words wouldn't work in Morocco. And so begins a blossoming friendship as Saida begins to learn English and teach her friend Arabic. It turns out you don't need perfect words to make a friend, after all. 

This is a really whimsical, humorous and poignant look at the importance (or non-importance!) of language. I love the fantastical illustrations that really play around with words - there are words everywhere throughout these pages, in both English and Arabic alphabets. There are funny moments, such as when our nameless protagonist looks into her teacher's pockets, searching for Saida's words, but this is also a book with a strong message of being accepting of new immigrants and that friendship transcends cultural differences. Originally published in Spain, this book is a little outside the box of what we normally see published in America and I love it for that. It's a beautiful book that's not afraid to play.