Welcome to my strand of the worldwide web! Don't worry--it's not sticky. You can make your way around it easily to learn something about me and what I write for young people.
Mid-November of 2012 found me in the West Bank, Palestine, to help launch the Arabic translation of SANTA CLAUS IN BAGHDAD AND OTHER STORIES ABOUT TEENS IN THE ARAB WORLD. The publisher, the Tamer Institute for Community Education, in Ramallah, arranged visits in different towns and villages. Talking with young teenagers, librarians, and teachers was a pleasure, even filtered through translation, and the kids--impossible not to love them, in any language!
This trip came as soon as I'd put the last touches on my biography of the Muslim hero Abd el-Kader, published in spring 2013 by Wisdom Tales Press (www.wisdomtalespress.com). The title is THE COMPASSIONATE WARRIOR: ABD EL-KADER OF ALGERIA--and it's the co-recipient of the nonfiction award for 2013 by the Middle East Outreach Council.
The Emir Abd el-Kader, only twenty-five at the start of his long struggle, led resistance to the French conquest of Algeria (North Africa) in the 1830s and '40s; and later, exiled to Damascus, managed to save the lives of several thousand local Christians when bloody riots broke out in 1860. In his quieter moments, he was an interfaith bridge-builder, seeking common ground among religions, especially Christianity and Islam. I hope that my book will be eye-opening and meaningful for young (and older) readers, both Muslim and non-Muslim.
Also coming out from Wisdom Tales Press, in 2014, is a picture book of my award-winning story "The Olive Tree," which takes place in Lebanon after a long war. The illustrator is Claire Ewart--and this combination is a dream come true. Years ago, Claire and I talked about someday doing a book together, and at last it's happening. All of Wisdom Tales' picture books are spectacularly beautiful.
I'll add a reminder here about the film made from the "Santa Claus in Baghdad" story by Raouf Zaki of RA Visions, an independent filmmaker in the Boston area. It won several distinctions at film festivals across the country and is available on DVD, including educational material suitable for middle school to college. Please see the film's website--www.santaclausinbaghdad.com, also a link from this site.
Although I grew up in Massachusetts and live in Indiana, much of my writing is about the Middle East and North Africa, where I've lived and traveled for many years. If you're a student, I hope you'll find my books a good way to "get there"--and if you're a teacher, you'll find that they help bring the Middle East into the classroom. To get the talk flowing, I've included some "let's talk about" questions for each book, on this site. Many adults, too, find my books an effective and unusual introduction to the Exotic East, ancient and modern.
Ahlan wa sahlan--Welcome! And read on!