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Samira Surfs

Samira Surfs

Illustrated by Fahmida Azim


Samira Surfs

About the Book

A middle grade novel in verse about Samira, an eleven-year-old Rohingya refugee living in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh, who finds strength and sisterhood in a local surf club for girls.

Samira thinks of her life as before and after: before the burning and violence in her village in Burma, when she and her best friend would play in the fields, and after, when her family was forced to flee. There's before the uncertain journey to Bangladesh by river, and after, when the river swallowed her nana and nani whole. And now, months after rebuilding a life in Bangladesh with her mama, baba, and brother, there's before Samira saw the Bengali surfer girls of Cox's Bazar, and after, when she decides she'll become one.

Samira Surfs, written by Rukhsanna Guidroz with illustrations by Fahmida Azim, is a tender novel in verse about a young Rohingya girl's journey from isolation and persecution to sisterhood, and from fear to power.

Product Details

On sale: June 29, 2021
Age: 8-12 years
Grade: Grades 6-8
Page count: 416 Pages
ISBN: 9781984816191
Reading level: Lexile: 680L | Fountas/Pinnell: Y

Author Bio

Rukhsanna Guidroz is the author of Mina vs. the Monsoon and Leila in Saffron. She studied French at King's College, London, and political science at the Sorbonne, Paris, before living and working in Hong Kong as a journalist. After becoming a mother, Rukhsanna began her teaching career, working with students from kindergarten to high school. She now lives in Maui, Hawaii where she's taken up surfing. Learn more about her at

Fahmida Azim is an illustrator, author, and tea drinker. She immigrated to the United States from Bangladesh as a child and grew up in northern Virginia, graduating with a BFA in Communication Arts from VCUarts. Her art frequently addresses the themes of identity, culture, and autonomy and has been featured in the New York Times, NPR, and Vice. Fahmida now lives and works in Seattle. Learn more about her at


An ALA RISE: A Feminist Book Project List 2022 selection
An NCTE Notable Poetry Book and Verse Novel of 2022 selection  
A Center for the Study of Multicultural Literature Best Books of 2021 selection  
A Society of Illustrators Original Art show 2021 selection
A Publishers Weekly Best Books of 2021 selection 

★ “A compelling novel that spotlights the history and contemporary circumstances of the Rohingya while tackling universal themes of friendship, belonging, and identity.” —School Library Journal, starred review
“[T]his novel shines a light on a subject rarely addressed in middle grade fiction.” —Booklist

“This novel is peopled with layered, fully formed characters who experience trauma and triumph in equal measure . . . A compassionate and well-rounded picture of refugee life.” —Kirkus Reviews