Hands Around the Library: Protecting Egypt’s Treasured Books

Susan L. Roth, Author, Karen Leggett Abouraya, Author, Susan L. Roth, Illustrator
Susan L. Roth and Karen Leggett Abouraya,
illus. by Susan L. Roth. Dial, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-8037-3747-1
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As she did in Listen to the Wind, the picture-book adaptation of Greg Mortensen’s Three Cups of Tea, Roth brings to the fore a hopeful story from a politically charged country. Roth and journalist Abouraya, in her first children’s book, transport readers to Egypt in January 2011 where, after years of living under an oppressive government, “Egypt’s young people decided/ it was finally time/ to let their voices be heard,/ and so they began to march in the streets.” The narrator, a participant in the protests, describes how young people joined the library director to form a human chain around the Bibliotheca Alexandrina to protect the library’s treasures and its integrity as a lasting symbol of freedom. Readers will find much to celebrate in this heartening story. In her signature collages, which feature bold colors and an array of textures, Roth incorporates materials and motifs that have particular significance to her setting and subject matter. Information on the artwork, the history of the library, and the events in Egypt is included in several pages of author and resource notes. Ages 3–5. (Aug.)
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