Homeland: My Father Dreams of Palestine

A father shares his memories of Palestine with his children in this heartwarming autobiographical picture book debut by second-generation Palestinian American Hannah Moushabeck and Kuwaiti illustrator Reem Madooh.

In Homeland, three sisters eagerly await their father's return home for bedtime. He tells them stories of summer visits to the Old City of Jerusalem where he would stay with his grandparents, Teta Maria and Sido Abu Michel. Father recalls accompanying his "stern-looking, tarboosh-wearing" Sido (who was also the town leader, al-Mukhtar) on a walk to the family café. As they walk, they greet neighbors and friends and hear the "chanting of the muezzin's call to prayer mixed with the ringing of church bells." At story's end, the children learn that this is an account of the last time their father saw his grandfather and Palestine. The girls' father shows them "the large rusted old key to our family's home in Jerusalem," and the sisters whisper "hope of return."

Moushabeck skillfully immerses readers in the scents, sensations, and melodies of daily life in Palestine, mirroring the sense of belonging the girls feel for a beloved homeland they have never visited. Debut illustrator Madooh's lively art focuses on details that capture the rich diversity of the vibrant, multilingual, and multireligious neighborhood as well as the family's pride in their Palestinian identity: a multitude of cultural details and artifacts are displayed in their home, such as the oud (lute), tabla (drum), and kaffiyeh (square scarf). Moushabeck's text combined with Madooh's illustrations thoughtfully showcase dignity, joy, and resistance along with profound senses of loss and love of community. --Hadeal Salamah, blogger, librarian, freelance reviewer

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