30-Second Review: الوطن (El Wutn)

What is a “homeland”?

Kids salute the flag every day and sing “Biladi, Biladi,” but what does الوطن really mean? A young boy wonders, and decides to find out in this charmingly, childishly illustrated book, given two thumbs up by my six-and-three-quarters-year-old. Much (not all) of the language was simple enough for him to understand outright.

Our narrator asks the moon, an orange tree, the earth, the Nile, the (quickly moving) sun, the wind: Are you the homeland? Each of them answers no, although none seems to be talking down to the boy. (The book, thank goodness, never gets preachy.) Even I got caught up in the charm, and began to wonder: Well, for goodness sakes, what is a homeland?

The boy finally ends up asking his grandmother. And the answer: Well, it’s all of us—friends, neighbors, Muslims, Christians (we’re not explicitly told the homeland is multi-religious, but there are both Muslim and Christian names), the school, the Nile, the moon, the sun, and everyone living on Egyptian soil: الوطن هو نحن كلنا .

Honestly, I got a little choked up.

Age: 4-8. The six-year-old really enjoyed it, the two-year-old could not manage to pay attention.

Who: The sort of kid who wonders about these sorts of things.

Cost: 7LE

Where? I found this at the Heliopolis Sherouk. I don’t remember having seen it elsewhere, but surely you could order it from any large-ish bookstore.

Publisher: Dar el Shorouk

Author: فاطمة المعدول

Illustrator: صلاح بيصور

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