My daughter Alya loves peacocks so much and she spends many hours drawing and painting them. I even got her little peacocks ornaments to hang in her room. In fact, the word Peacock "Tawoos" is the first Arabic word she wrote on her own. Peacocks are beautiful birds that are often associated with vanity. This Arabic book "Bakbook: The Peacock that Has No Color" tackles this topic among others. I "virtually" met May Tartoussy the author of this book by chance via a common friend and when I saw that her book was about a peacock and in Arabic, I just felt that I had to read it and explore the journey of Bakbook. May graciously gave me a copy of the book to read and review and she even signed and addressed it to Alya. I am now on a quest to collect fantastic autographed Arabic children books.
I had to read the book to her because it was difficult for her to read on her own still, especially that she is only used to one script/typography: Naskh, so she finds reading Arabic books in any other font challenging. We read four to five pages every day and I had to explain it in English but we focused on few words in Arabic that I felt were good words for her to learn.
This book is rich with messages without the preachy tone, so I think that kids of all ages can benefit from it. Each age category will find something suitable and relevant. The beauty of this book is that it actually fosters the idea of individual critical thinking and the author gently encourages the audience to rethink inherited notions, break free from them and find a personal truth. Surely a lot for a child you may think, but I believe that children have this natural ability to question things that we, adults, take for granted. Their continuous whys and questioning help them understand this changing world.
The story is about Bakbook, a sheltered and spoiled peacock who lives in a castle in Dubai. This peacock is surrounded by beautiful colorful peacocks yet he is colorless. We follow Bakbook on his journey of self discovery to a colorful existence where he reevaluates what makes him beautiful and colorful among other valuable components of self worth. This book comes handy when the society puts so much importance on acquiring things and having preset idea of what makes us beautiful or happy or worthy.
The illustrator Hesham Sleiman did an absolutely fantastic job giving Bakbook and the other characters distinctive personalities and his style is so fluid and bouncy in a way that resonates with the feel of the book away from rigid lines and constricting shapes.
As I was ready to publish this post, May emailed me that the publishing house is nominating the book for an award. Best of luck Bankbook. If you want to purchase the book it is on sale via www.goldenbook.ae
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Resources:My latest article about teaching Arabic to kids: http://www.arabamerica.com/6-tips-teaching-arabic-kids/