cover image One Wish: Fatima al-Fihri and the World’s Oldest University

One Wish: Fatima al-Fihri and the World’s Oldest University

M.O. Yuksel, illus. by Mariam Quraishi. HarperCollins, $18.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-06-303291-0

This lyrical account of the life of Fatima al-Fihri (c. 800–880 CE) surveys the eventual fulfillment of one woman’s childhood dream to bolster her community by building a school. (It would eventually become the University of al-Qarawiyyin, “the oldest existing and continually operating university in the world,” per back matter.) Employing subtle refrains, such as “She stood tall, determined, and strong,/ carrying her wish inside her,” Yuksel makes clear how al-Fihri’s dream influenced her goals throughout her life, and how her beliefs gave her the strength to pursue it despite personal tragedy, including her family’s flight from Tunisia to Morocco, where many sought refuge. In reds, tans, and greens, gouache and watercolor art by Quraishi employs finely rendered details, including patterned clothing and architecture. Advocating for persistence and education, this picture book adroitly demonstrates how al-Fihri’s Muslim faith inspired her community care. Back matter includes an author’s note. Ages 4–8. (Feb.)