Based on an old folktale with both Jewish and Arab roots, this version of the story focuses on Yaffa and Fatima, two neighbors who are Jewish and Muslim, respectively. The first half of the book sets up their friendship and lays out the different customs of each woman. Then hard times come. Separately, the friends each come up with an identical plan to help the other one out. The text is simple but lovely, as are the muted but expressive illustrations — both of which suit the story perfectly. Its message of mutual respect and of the power of friendship to transcend differences is especially welcome right now.
Leslie Kimmelman grew up outside Philadelphia and graduated from Middlebury College in Vermont. She is the author of many children’s books, awards for which include Best Children’s Books of the Year from the Bank Street College of Education; Notable Children’s Trade Books in the Field of Social Studies; and Sydney Taylor Notable Books. Kimmelman is an editor at Sesame Workshop and lives with her family just north of New York City.