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Eleven Words for Love: A Journey Through Arabic Expressions of Love

Eleven Words for Love: A Journey Through Arabic Expressions of Love

Illustrated by Maxine Beneba Clarke


Eleven Words for Love: A Journey Through Arabic Expressions of Love

About the Book

A lyrical narrative of a Palestinian family in exile explores universal bonds of family, loyalty, and friendship through the lens of eleven Arabic expressions for love.

A family has fled their homeland in search of safety in another country, carrying a single suitcase. As their journey unfolds, the oldest child reflects on the special contents of that suitcase: photo albums that evoke eleven of many names for love in Arabic. From sunshine-warm friendship to the love that dissolves all tears; from the love that makes you swoon to the love that leaves you yearning for the heart’s homeland—her family has experienced it all. Illustrated in vibrant watercolor pencil and collage on textured card stock, this moving scrapbook shows a family embracing an unknown future even as they honor the past, casting immigration and the refugee experience in the light of universal human connection.

Product Details

On sale: November 7, 2023
Age: 4-8 years
Grade: Preschool - 3
Page count: 40 Pages
ISBN: 9781536230215
Reading level: Fountas/Pinnell: M

Author Bio

Randa Abdel-Fattah is a Palestinian-Egyptian-Muslim writer, academic, former lawyer, and the multi-award-winning author of eleven books published in more than twenty countries, including the novel Does My Head Look Big in This? and a graphic novel series. She has been nominated twice for the Astrid Lindgren Award. She lives in Sydney, Australia.

Maxine Beneba Clarke is an Australian poet and writer of Afro-Caribbean descent. She is the author of five books for children, including The Patchwork Bike, a Boston GlobeHorn Book Award winner and Children’s Book Council of Australia Book of the Year, and the author-illustrator of the critically acclaimed picture book When We Say Black Lives Matter and Fashionista.


Alongside the lyrical definitions of love, the textured, bright, collagelike illustrations beautifully chronicle the family’s journey. The photographs of cherished memories are deftly interwoven alongside scenes of the characters building a new life. . . Relying on cultural touches such as a keffiyeh that one character wears, the story offers a glimpse into the lives of a Palestinian family uprooted from their home. A tender tale of love and remembrance.
—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

We all know that language can be nuanced, but the idea of there being 11 different words for 11 different sorts of love is simply delightful. . . Vibrant pastel illustrations from Clarke add depth and context, depicting love among intergenerational, biological, and chosen families. Eleven Words for Love can be described as a bilingual concept book and can be integrated creatively in writing, SEL, and art activities.

An affirming picture book that will be particularly welcomed by libraries seeking stories about refugees and the migration experience.
—School Library Journal

[A] lovely book, which illustrates the many different ways there are to care. . . Each kind of love is illustrated by Clarke's vibrant double-page watercolor pencil collage paintings, which show both brown- and pink-skinned people embracing, playing, chatting over the fence. Abdel-Fattah's poignant rhyming story celebrates the many ways we cherish the world and the people in it.
—The Star Tribune

Current events add sharp poignancy to this explanation of the nuanced meanings of 11 Arabic words that describe love. Besides introducing the foreign language and its calligraphy, the book will help children understand distinct relationships recognized by English speakers, too.
—The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

If you’ve ever thought English needed more words for different kinds of love, you’ll appreciate the Arabic expressions highlighted in this book.
—We Are Teachers