Monday, February 7, 2011

The Day of Ahmed's Secret

The Day of Ahmed's Secret
by Florence Parry Heide and Judith Heide Gillilan
Illustrated by Ted Lewin
HarperCollins, 1995
ISBN: 0-590-45029-8

With Egypt in the news so much lately, your students or children may be like my son- asking questions. While the political situation is complex, this book offers a simple slice-of-life story that gives readers a window into what life is like in Cairo for one little boy. Both of my children have read it and taken different things from it. My daughter (age 5) simply took in the story while my son (age 8) was able to connect this story to the wider situation in Egypt and the region. We've taken the globe out several times and located Egypt, Tunisia and Yemen as events continue to unfold.

This book reminds me that revolutions are about people. While Ahmend is a fictional character, I can imagine how his life might be affected by current events. Ahmed is like any other kid living in Cairo, working for a better life.

Ted Lewin's art is stunning, as always. My children's understanding of Egypt was equally informed by the art as by the text. While I've never been to Egypt, I have been to Morocco. The two countries share many similarities. As I looked at the illustrations I was transported to North Africa once again.

(Thanks to Mitali Perkins for introducing me to this book on her blog. Through Mitali's blog, I also found this list of other books about Egypt for children through young adults).

Do you know of any other books for children about Egypt? Please share them.


  1. I'm starting a unit on Egypt with my Montessori kids in March and a friend just game me "Goodnight Cairo". It's perfect for preschoolers. I will certainly be checking out yours as well. Thanks for the tip!

  2. Tiffany,
    Do you have any more details about the book (author, ISBN)? I couln't find it.

    Also, FYI... the book I suggested may be too word heavy for the average preschooler.

  3. Hi Michelle-
    Thanks for linking to my list of books about Egypt! Unfortunately, it's not as long as I'd like. There just aren't very many books (in English) about modern Egypt.

    The "Goodnight My Cairo" book is a fun and colorful introduction to the city for young readers. However, it is a local (Egyptian) publication and not readily available internationally.

    The author info, etc. is in my list of books, and here's a link to a Goodreads page:

  4. Bernadette (escapadethroughegypt),
    Thanks for the information. I should have gone back and checked your list once Tiffany suggested the book and I couldn't find it. A quick search just revealed we can't get it here.

    How did you get the book?

  5. We're reading about Ahmed as well as part of a lengthy pre-planned study of Africa, and I really am trying to think the discussions I want it to lead to for us about current events in Egypt. Still mulling how much and what to tell a preschooler. Two quick things for you 1) the illustration with the blue and white wall is actually a place in Morocco, not Egypt, so no wonder it makes you remember it so strongly, and 2) my preschooler (almost 4) is doing fine with the book, though it might be harder in a storytime setting than one on one for her age.

  6. Molly,
    Thanks for commenting. How do you know the blue/white wall is in Morocco? Is it the Blue Gate in Fez (or Fes)? That's what I thought, but since I've never been to Cairo I couldn't say a similar gate isn't there.
    My preschooler enjoyed it too, but I do agree that is it might be too much for storytime. When I've read in her class, I've been aware that I need to choose books with less text than the books I read to her on-on-one.