cover image Egyptian Lullaby

Egyptian Lullaby

Zeena M. Pliska, illus. by Hatem Aly. Roaring Brook, $18.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-2502-2249-7

A beloved family member’s visit from Cairo brings “a little of our old life with her” in this cumulative tale centered on the city’s sights and sounds. A child narrator is excited at the arrival of Auntie Fatma: “our house is full of Arabic for two whole weeks. It makes me miss Cairo.” At bedtime, Auntie Fatma reassures (“Don’t worry... once you drink from the Nile, you’ll always return”) and, to assuage the child’s yearning, “sings the sounds of Egypt to me as I fall asleep.” These include the “swish, swoosh, swish” of the Nile, the mosques’ call to prayer, and sounds of animals, people, and vehicles. Pliska’s rhythmic prose creates a tangible sense of depth, the city’s bustle orchestrated as a layered soundscape while the Nile whispers underneath. Similarly layered are Aly’s digital illustrations, which include fields of pattern and color, scribbly elements, and scanned photos and textures, all of which suggest the lively city of the family’s experience and memory. Creators’ notes and a glossary conclude. Ages 4–8. (Apr.)