11 words for love by Randa Abdel-Fattah & Maxine Beneka Clarke

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There are eleven word for love in the Arabic language and each of these is shown in this impressive picture book, as a family flees their homeland for safety in another country. They carry only a small suitcase, but it is full of the love shared between the members on the family. Their journey reveals the love between friends, that sudden feeling of love when a new baby appears, or the love of strangers showing kindness. Each form of love is shared with the readers, showing the Arabic word and calligraphy for that word. So kindness is al-Hanaan, love between friends, al-Wid. The family knows all the words for love as they become refugees searching for safety. In fleeing they recall cherished moments, particularly of people who have died, and of those who have died on their journey. They recall the love that hits you, the love that keeps growing, the love that makes you yearn for your homeland left behind, but wanting to go back one more time.

All the words relate to someone leaving their country for another, forced to flee, but taking memories and a connection with them that will stay forever in their heart.

The dazzling illustrations reveal a family with a suitcase of love, pictured in postcards and images from an album, underlining the transient nature of their journey, sending cards to loved ones left behind, taking photographs to send to relatives in their homeland to show they have arrived at their destination and as a record of their family together.

There are more than 50 words describing nuances of love in the Arabic language. And this remarkable book focusses on just eleven. Teacher's notes are available.

Themes: Love, Family, Refugees, Kindness.

Fran Knight