My Name Is Bana

Bana Alabed, illus. by Nez Riaz. Salaam Reads, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-5344-1248-4
When brown-haired, light-skinned Bana asks her mother, who wears a headscarf, about the meaning of her name, her mother explains in Arabic how she and Bana’s father wanted Bana to channel the strength of a particular species of Syrian tree. A routine series of explanations follows, centering on various meanings of strength: “It means you use your mighty/ voice to speak up when you see/ something that is wrong or unfair.” When war comes to her country, Bana must discover just how strong she can be. Riaz’s homey acrylic paintings, finished digitally, mostly eschew the horrors of war, save for a spread of Bana and her family looking distressed and another showing planes flying over a desolate landscape. Richly hued illustrations emphasize simple expressions and dynamism in this hope-filled personal consideration of strength and cultural roots by Alabed, the Syrian youth activist who gained attention on Twitter after posting coverage of the war in Aleppo in 2016. Back matter features a contextualizing author’s note. Ages 4–8. (Sept.)
Reviewed on : 10/14/2021
Release date: 09/01/2021
Genre: Children's
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