I hate that this book is so timely. It was written by the author/illustrator recalling the 2014 airstrikes, but alas, has anything changed for the Palestinians’ suffering at the hands of the Israeli occupiers amid the apathetic silence of the world? This 32 page picture book shows family love and daily life while Gaza is under siege. The heartbreak of a young girl’s reality and perception shows the reader, in a simple empathetic, heart-wrenching, real-life example how her dream was limited and caged because she is not free. The book is not sensationalized, nor graphic, it is written by someone who endured this as a child, and has written the book for children. The theme is not even political, but more hopeful as art is found as a respite and way to keep dreams from completely dying. May Allah swt ease the suffering of those under occupation and free Palestine, ameen.
The book starts with a little girl and her parents going to Sitti’s house for the best maqlouba. Sitti has a beloved bird, Malak wonders if she too is in a cage. Her grandmother encourages her to fly in her dreams. At school she is happy with her friends, playing games, listening to stories, but when an explosion sends them all home, she won’t get to return for 51 days.
Constant airstrikes keep the family home and in fear. Malak finds some paints and starts to create. Sitti’s bird is lost when Sitti’s home is destroyed, but somehow shows up at Malak’s home. Eventually Malak returns to school and she shows her teacher all her paintings. Her teacher decides to host an exhibit.
People show up and marvel at her art work. Months later an international exhibit invites her to attend with her parents, but sadly she must decline. Gaza is closed. She cannot leave.
The book is hopeful, but does not have a happy ending, and I think the weight of that makes this book all the more powerful: because it is timely, because occupation persists, because dreams cannot be made into reality, generation after generation, this story inshaAllah will inspire some change and lots of compassion.
There is nothing Islamic in the book, save some #muslimsintheillustrations, the author is Muslim.
Available here at Crescent Moon Book Store https://crescentmoonstore.com/products/sittis-bird?sca_ref=1601585.fIPhoqtScY