Purpose of this Blog...

You may have noticed that not all books are equal in capturing children's imaginations and in cultivating those innocent, tender souls. My goal is to help you find the ones that do!
(Painting by Mary Cassatt: "Mrs Cassatt Reading to her Grandchildren" -1888)

Thursday, April 4, 2019

A Palestinian Girl's Easter Traditions...

Today I'm reviewing a new book, Easter in Ramallah, written by Wafa Shami, with illustrations by Shaima Farouki.

This book focuses on the springtime Lent and Easter traditions of the author's remembered childhood in Ramallah. The Orthodox Church serves as backdrop of the story, without explanation given as to the spiritual meaning behind the somber and celebratory services and traditions that are the focus of the story.  Depending on the reader, this omission may or may not feel like there is something lacking in the message of the book. 

The story centers on a Christian Palestinian girl named Noor.  Her best friend Laila lives next door, and the two eight year olds are enjoying a spring day during Lent. 

They share a sweet and honest friendship and are comparing their families' fasting practices. Laila, a Muslim, thinks Noor's fasting tradition sounds more difficult than hers. And Noor thinks the same about Laila's!

Noor's family has another Lenten tradition besides fasting - they attend church services during Holy Week.  The beautiful Good Friday Mass is Noor's favorite.

Saturday arrives with its Light Parade.  People line the street, lighting their candles from the Clergymen who have come with long candles lit in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem.*  There are marching bands of girl and boy scouts.

After the parade, Noor returns home for another tradition - one that is familiar to Americans: coloring Easter eggs.  But Noor and her mother use boiled vegetables to make the colors to dye their eggs!  Earlier in the week they also baked special Easter treats - Ka'ek and ma'moul cookies.

Easter Sunday arrives and Noor goes off to church in her beautiful dress, carrying her Easter basket.  Afterward, her whole neighborhood celebrates... 

 "The neighborhood was just filled with joy, neighbors going from door to door offering their holiday greetings. The kids' excitement with eating Easter chocolate and cookies and smashing the colorful Easter eggs filled the place with laughter, love and the holiday spirit."

Laila joins in the neighborhood fun later in the day and Noor shares some of her Easter Eggs.  Leila is excited to share her Eid El Fitr celebration with Noor at the end of Ramadan.

I think this story is a lovely look at the Easter traditions of another culture, as well as an example of the harmonious relationship that is possible in the innocent friendship of children from two different religious cultures.  May we all aspire to that!

Easter in Ramallah is available on AMAZON.  You can also find Wafa Shami online - at her website, "Palestine in a Dish", here.

*For 1,200 years, every Great and Holy Saturday, the Greek Patriarch has awaited the light in a small dark chamber of the church. After a time he emerges with a lit candle and reassures the gathered throngs that the miracle has occurred again. That flame is used to light many candles, which are then transported to Christian towns throughout Palestine and placed in churches. Some people take the light home and try to keep it flickering throughout the year.


  1. This is a beautiful book about understanding all religions.

  2. What a wonderful book. The drawings are lovely.

  3. What a lovely and interesting book.