Since it’s still Valentine’s Day week, I thought it was the perfect time to feature a picture book about friendship. Enjoy!
Title: The Day Saida Arrived
Written By: Susana Gómez Redondo
Illustrated By: Sonja Wimmer
Translated By: Lawrence Schimel
Publisher/Date: Blue Dot Kids Press/2020 (originally published in Spain, El día que Saída Ilegó, Takatuka SL/2012)
Suitable for Ages: 4-8
Themes/Topics: friendship, immigration, language, empathy, respect
The day Saida arrived, it seemed to me that she had lost all her words. So, I tried to look for them in every nook cranny corner drawer seam to see if, between them and me, we might get rid of her tears and throw away her silence.
Brief Synopsis: When a new girl, Saida, arrives at the narrator’s school, the two become friends as the narrator shares English words with Saida and learns words in Saida’s native Arabic.
Links to Resources:
- Try to learn some words in another language from a relative, friend, or neighbor;
- Saida has traveled to her new school from Morocco. Discover Morocco here;
- Saida speaks Arabic and teaches the narrator some Arabic words. Check out the activities at A Crafty Arab to learn more Arabic words and discover Arabic culture;
- Discover other ideas in the Teacher’s Guide.
Why I Like this Book:
With lyrical language and effective repetition, The Day Saida Arrived recounts the journey undertaken by the narrator and her new friend, Saida, as they explore each other’s language. I love that the narrator welcomes the young immigrant, Saida, and that she seeks to help her learn the language spoken at her new school. But rather than heading down a one-way street to teach her new friend this new-to-her language, the narrator seeks to bridge the language divide by learning Saida’s language, Arabic. Together, the girls forge a friendship by sharing both languages, learning about each other’s culture, and dreaming of a day when they can visit Saida’s home country of Morocco together.
With Arabic words and pronunciations sprinkled throughout the text, and English and Arabic alphabets set side by side at the end, I think The Day Saida Arrived is a wonderful introduction to Arabic language and culture. I also think it’s a good reminder that children, and adults, can welcome newcomers to their country by sharing their culture and by being open to learning about the immigrants’ culture. That way, everyone can learn a “world of new words.”
With its dreamy, surrealistic illustrations, The Day Saida Arrived is a gorgeous picture book. The inclusion of words in English and Arabic, with pronunciations, scattered within the illustrations makes this a book that I think kids and adults will want to reread numerous times.
A Note about Craft:
In The Day Saida Arrived, Redondo utilizes first-person point-of-view, telling the story of Saida’s arrival from the perspective of the young girl who befriends the newcomer. I think this perspective is particularly effective because it provides a roadmap to readers showing how they can welcome newcomers to their schools or neighborhoods.
Intrigued by the newcomer and wanting to help her, the narrator tells her parents all about Saida that evening. I love how Mama finds Morocco on a globe and how Papa explains that perhaps Saida doesn’t want to speak because she’s aware her words are different, just as the narrator’s words would be different and wouldn’t work in Morocco. Including these sympathetic adults, I think, strengthens the story because it shows the importance of supportive adults to expand children’s horizons.
This Perfect Picture Book entry is being added to Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Book list. Check out the other great picture books featured there!