Back after a long break!

Hello! I'm back after taking a break from my book project for a few months. I missed doing this, but I really enjoyed my vacation. I went to Texas, and caught 8 fish, then 10 more a couple days later! I ALSO went to Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and I saw cousins and aunts, it was really fun seeing them. Even though I wasn't writing this, I DID A LOT READING!!! I'll be posting more books here soon, watch out!

Code breaking in Turkey

Book: The Beyoglu Adventure by Sara Sahinkanat and Ayse Inan

Ages: 8+

Relationship to country: This book was written in Turkish and translated into English

Book in a nutshell: Have an exciting adventure while decoding with Sinan

Sinan hears a knock on the door. When he opens the door, he finds a map and a letter. The letter has a coded message in it that Sinan has to figure out. The book comes with a special code key that you can use yourself to solve the code with Sinan!

Sinan goes all around Istanbul, the capital of Turkey, following codes and maps and codes and maps. Every new letter than Sinan finds has a code that you can use your decoder ring to solve. But there are Code Pirates following Sinan, and he has to find the next clue before the Code Pirates can catch up with him. One time he drops a fake letter to trick the Code Pirate and get them off his trail.

This was a very fun book. I liked using the decoder key to follow along with the story. I thought the author and the illustrator did a very good job with this book!


Under the Light of the Moon: A Story about Armenia


Book: Under the Light of the Moon by Laura Michael

Ages: 7+

Relationship to country: A book about Armenian orphans living in Greece 

Book in a nutshell: A story about Jackie, an American child actor who wants to help Armenian orphans, and Lucine, an Armenian orphan wondering if she will find her family again

This is a very encouraging story for children. It really encourages children to help people and to appreciate what they've got. The reason I say it was encouraging is because the main character, Jackie, is a kid, and he really helps a lot of people. And I learned that he was a real person who really did these things. So this is a good reason for kids to read this book.

Specifically, Jackie wants to help orphans from Armenia who had escaped from Armenia by walking through the desert. Their parents got captured by soldiers in Armenia. I got the impression there was more to the story about what was happening in Armenia, so you might want to have a parent search for you if you aren't allowed to Google by yourself. My mom and I did read about the Armenian genocide, and it is pretty difficult history to read about.

Jackie was a famous child actor in the United States. Some of the ways that he helped were to make a movie and instead of selling tickets, people could come to see the movie by bringing clothes and canned food. 

Jackie also went to Greece where many of the Armenian orphans were staying so that he could meet the children that he was trying to help. He especially wanted to meet Lucine because he had seen her photo. Lucine was an orphan living in Greece, and she had lost hope that she would ever find her family again. I think you'll enjoy reading this book and learning more about this history and hearing about how a kid can help someone across the world.

Azerbaijan: Folklore podcast

Book: "The Trickster Goat", as told on the podcast Folklore of the Universe 

Ages: 8+

Relationship to the country: A folktale from Azerbaijan 

Book in a nutshell: This podcast talked about "trickster" monsters in Turkish and Azerbaijani folklore

We had a hard time finding a children's book from Azerbaijan, but we did find a podcast that tells folktales and fairytales from around the world! We listened to an episode about "trickster" monsters in Turkish and Azerbaijani folklore. The story from Azerbaijan was called "The Trickster Goat." You can find the podcast here if you are interested. We liked this podcast and plan to listen to it again, because they tell you the story then talk about what the story means.

The story starts off with a a goat, a calf, and a sheep. But the humans that used to watch them go away. The people are moving away from the mountains, and now the goat, the calf, and the sheep are all exposed to predators. Their plan to keep safe is to wear the pelt--the fur--of the bear, the fox, and the wolf and go find a hut to live in. But then when they found a hut, there were a real bear, wolf, and fox already inside! They are able to trick their predators by pretending that they ate a wolf, a fox, and a bear and that that was how they got those pelts. The trick works, and the predators run away screaming.

The goat, the calf, and the sheep leave the hut because they are worried the predators will discover their trick. They climb a rock. One of them falls down, and the goat yells down to the predators, "The cow is coming for the bear, and we'll get the wolf and the fox!" The predators got really scared then, and the goat, the sheep, and the calf were able to rejoin their herds where they belonged.

Georgian Folk Tales

Book: Georgian Folk Tales by Marjory Wardrop

Ages: 10+

Relationship to country: This book translates stories and folk tales from Georgia into English

Book in a nutshell: A book of folk tales from Georgia

We read two stories from this book, "Master and Pupil" and "The Three Sisters and Their Stepmother." I am going to write about the story "Master and Pupil." In this story, a master is a teacher, and a pupil is a student. In the beginning of the story, the mom insisted that her son needed to know things because she didn't want him to grow up poor like they were. So, the boy and his father went out to look for a teacher. They were drinking from a stream, and a teacher appeared. What they didn't know is that he was an evil spirit.

The evil spirit says he will teach the boy for one year, and the father can have him back if he can recognize him. After a year, the father goes back, and he does not recognize his boy! But his boy does recognize him, and he warns his father that all of the boys will be turned into birds. The boy tells his father that he will be the bird flying in last place. The evil spirit comes and turns all of the boys into birds, and asks the father to point to his son. He points to the last bird, his son. The evil spirit is very upset about having to return the boy.

On the way home, the boy and his father use magical powers to trick people into giving them money. On the last trick, they get too greedy. One moral of the story would be not to give your son away to an evil spirit. And definitely not for a whole year. And if you do give your son away to an evil spirit, don't be greedy afterward. 

The Little Black Fish

Book: The Little Black Fish by Samad Behrangi, translated by Azita Rassi

Ages: 7+

Relationship to country: This book is a classic Iranian children's book, translated into English

Book in a nutshell: A little black fish wants to explore where the river ends

 Today we read another book from Iran. The Little Black Fish was so special to his mother. Thousands of her baby fish and eggs had not survived, and Little Black Fish was her only baby. Every day, Little Black Fish and his mom would swim up, down, and around their little stream, going to the same places and seeing the same fish over and over. Little Black Fish wants to explore. He wants to know what is beyond his stream.

Little Black Fish jumps down a waterfall and escapes his stream. He sees so many different things once he leaves his stream, but many of the things that he sees are not safe. He meets a swordfish, seabirds, a pelican, a lizard, a crab, and more. Many of those creatures want to eat him. Little Black Fish was brave meeting all of those dangers. He never stopped wanting to keep going and to keep seeing new things. 

I think the lesson of the story is to explore and be brave and face dangers. We read that this book was banned in Iran. I thought that was strange. Why would a book about a fish be banned? At the back of the book, they explained that the book was banned because in Iran they didn't want people to go past their borders and to explore new countries and meet new people.

The Garden of Inside-Outside


Book: The Garden of Inside-Outside by Chiara Mezzalama & Regis Lejonc, translated by Sarah Ardizzone

Ages: 8+

Relationship to country: This book was written by an Italian author about the time that she spent in Iran as a child

Book in a nutshell: A girl plays in a garden that she calls "inside" where she feels safe and on the "outside" there is a war

A girl named Chiara moves from her home in Italy to a new home in Iran, where her dad is working. Her new home has a beautiful garden where she can play with her brother. But outside of the beautiful garden, there is a war going on. Chiara calls the city outside a city-monster because she feels scared and upset with all of the terrible things happening outside the walls of her garden. She never goes outside and mostly she plays with her brother. She calls her garden "inside", where she feels safe, and the city "outside", where she does not feel that it is safe to go.

But one day when she is playing in the garden, a boy from the outside climbs the garden wall and comes inside her garden. She should have told an adult about this because he was a stranger and it could have meant that the garden was not safe anymore. But she does not tell an adult, and she plays with the boy Massoud. They become friends. She tries to give Massoud her favorite shirt as a gift, but he ran away. Days later he comes back and gives her a little wooden cat. I think he ran off because he wanted to have something to give to Chiara, too. Even when Chiara grows up, the little wooden cat helps her feel strong. 

My life now also is like inside-outside. The inside is my house where we quarantine for the past year, and the outside is where coronavirus is. I miss my friends.  

The boy and camel from Turkmenistan

Book: The Boy and the Camel by Kayum Tangrykuliev translated by Jim Riordan

Ages: 7+

Relationship to country: A collection of folktales from Turkmenistan

Book in a nutshell: Different stories about living in the desert and the relationship between people and the animals that they work with 

It was really difficult to find a book translated into English from Turkmenistan. When my mom found The Boy and the Camel, she ordered it on EBay. It arrived at our house, and the address came all the way from Russia! 

One interesting thing about this story was that the animals were just as important as the people. The animals were very intelligent. There were camels and dogs in the stories. They knew how to help their masters. In one story, a dog was left behind in a village but then he crossed many miles in the desert all the way find his master. The humans also knew a lot about their animals. In one story, a shepherd recognized the tracks from a camel, and he had not even seen that camel in 10 years!

In the story "The Boy and the Camel," there was a camel who was retired from working because he was too old. But he was not happy about being retired because he liked to be useful. A boy found the camel and made friends with him and let the camel worked again. One time, while they were collecting firewood together, the boy left his water at home and was very thirsty. He wanted to go to the watering hole. But the camel would not let him off his back and then bit his shirt to keep him from going forward. Once when I was patting some goats by my grandparents house, they bit my dress! 

But the boy went anyway, and he immediately started sinking into quicksand. The camel was so smart and knew exactly where the quicksand was! He was trying to protect the boy. The camel saved the boy from the quicksand, but the camel started sinking. The boy put the firewood they had collected underneath the camel's belly to try to protect him, and the boy ran many miles across the desert to get help.

He falls asleep from thirst and exhaustion, but when he wakes up the camel has been saved! 

The Night Life of Trees, a truly special poetry book from India

Book: The Night Life of Trees by Bhajju Shyam, Durga Bai, and Ram Singh Urveti

Ages: 6+

Relationship to country: A book of poetry published by Tata Books in India, with art created by local artists from the Gond tribe in central India

Book in a nutshell: A book of poetry with original art on every page 

The Night Life of Trees is a truly amazing and one of a kind poetry book from India. It is beautiful, gorgeous, and magnificent. Every page has a poem or little story from the Gond tribe in central India. There must be a lot of forest in central India, because every story or poem has something about trees. For example, we learned about the sambar tree that can protect people and animals, and we also learned about the peepul tree. The peepul tree was the home of the creator and was absolutely perfect. It is special because from far away it looks like its own leaf. We drew some pictures of the peepul tree in the art above.

Every page of this book is a black page with silk-screened art of trees and animals. Each book has a unique number on the back so that you can tell the art is original. This book is also special to me because my Nana is a poet and an artist, and she sent this book to me as a gift for this project.

We were so inspired by the art in the book that me, my mom, and my little sister made our own sambar and peepul tree art. 

A story from Uzbekistan

Book: "How Sweet You Are, You Bitter Life!" by Khayriddin Sultonov and translated by Mahmuda Saydumarova in A Collection of Uzbek Short Stories 

Ages: 11+

Relationship to country: This is a short story from a collection of Uzbek short stories translated by Mahmuda Saydumarova

Book in a nutshell: A pretty dark but beautiful story about a mom and a son who had been fighting against Russian soldiers for their land

Warning: this story was pretty dark. My mom can't believe she let me read this. This story takes place in 1876 when Russian soldiers were in Uzbekistan. When the story begins, a mother is saying goodbye to her son because he is about to be punished for fighting against the soldiers. She is sad but she is also very proud of him.

The descriptions in this story are what really amazed me. The story takes place on a very cold day in a village, and the description of the cold is so beautiful that you start to feel cold yourself. I thought the writing was so good that I wanted to quote: "Today also, even the sun that looked like a worn-out coin shone its rays for just a little while and, as if feeling cold, hid itself under thick, gray clouds." All of the descriptions in this story are that good. I have been thinking about that idea of the sun being like an old coin for a couple of days. It is what the sun looks like in winter, far away and cold. I do not want to write any more because the story got very sad. This one is probably better for grown ups in my opinion.

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