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, which will be published in summer of 2013 by Wisdom Tales Press (www.wisdomtalespress.com). The title is THE COMPASSIONATE WARRIOR: ABD EL-KADER OF ALGERIA. and as soon as I get the finished cover, with its dramatic display of wildly charging horsemen, I'll post it.
The Emir Abd el-Kader, only twenty-five at the start, led resistance to the French conquest of Algeria (North Africa) in the 1830s and '40s, a brutal fifteen-year struggle. Later, exiled to Damascus, Syria, he and his followers 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. His truly amazing story is at the center of the Abdelkader Education Project, and I'm very glad that my book, as part of this project, will add to better understanding of Islam and Muslim-Americans.
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--literally a dream come true. Years ago, Claire and I talked about someday doing a book together, and at last it's happening. Wisdom Tales' picture books are spectacularly beautiful, so my hopes are high.
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!