My Name is Bana (Bana Alabed)

Hello, friends! Our book today is My Name is Bana, written by Bana Alabed and illustrated by Nez Riaz, a powerful tale of resilience, tenacity, and strength.

When Bana asks her mother how she got her name, her mother explains that she was named after a tall, green tree that grew in their native Syria. Bana’s parents gave her the name with that hope that their daughter would be strong like the tree – by showing kindness to others, by standing up against injustice, and by being brave in the face of fear. And in fact, Bana has already shown such strength in many ways: bringing joy to her brothers even amidst bombings and war; starting over in a new country with a new language and new classmates; and speaking on behalf of all Syrian refugee children in front of world leaders. Bana has more than shown that she is “qawia” (strong) like her namesake tree, and stronger still that her strength is rooted in “amal” – in hope.

Stirring. Based on Alabed’s true life story, this inspiring and empowering tale of fortitude manages to finely balance the gravity of its subject matter with language and a tone filled with the concept of hope that it explores. Riaz’s emotional illustrations capture moments of strife, courage, and peace with incredible nuance; Alabed’s text is lyrical yet conversational, and lovely to read aloud. Alabed’s author’s note in the backmatter is not to be skipped, and the closing lines will remind adult readers that strength should not always lie on the shoulders of children. The length is great for a storytime, and JJ and I really enjoyed the heartwarming exchange between mother and daughter. Overall, this is a fantastic book that covers a crucial topic in an accessible and uplifting way, and we highly recommend it. Baby Bookworm approved!

(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)

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