Monday, December 9, 2019

Review - Salma the Syrian Chef

Salma the Syrian Chef
by Danny Ramadan
illustrated by Anna Bron
Date: 2020
Publisher: Annick Press
Reading level: C
Book type: picture book
Pages: 40
Format: e-book
Source: NetGalley

All Salma wants is to make her mama smile again. Between English classes, job interviews, and missing Papa back in Syria, Mama always seems busy or sad. A homemade Syrian meal might cheer her up, but Salma doesn’t know the recipe, or what to call the vegetables in English, or where to find the right spices! Luckily, the staff and other newcomers at the Welcome Center are happy to lend a hand—and a sprinkle of sumac.

With creativity, determination, and charm, Salma brings her new friends together to show Mama that even though things aren’t perfect, there is cause for hope and celebration. Syrian culture is beautifully represented through the meal Salma prepares and Anna Bron’s vibrant illustrations, while the diverse cast of characters speaks to the power of cultivating community in challenging circumstances.

(synopsis from Goodreads)

Salma the Syrian Chef is a sweet story about the immigrant experience.

Salma and her mother live temporarily in the Welcome Center in Vancouver with a number of other immigrants. Salma is trying to adjust to her new life, but she's aware that her mother is busy and distracted. In fact, it's been a long time since Salma has heard her mother laugh. She thinks that if she can bring a little taste of home to Canada, it might help... so she sets out to make foul shami. Not knowing the language makes it tricky, but she succeeds in finding most of the ingredients. Things go well until a series of mishaps threaten the dish, and Salma wonders if her mother will ever laugh again.

I always like to see a book that's set locally, and this one has the added bonus of focusing on a subject that's current and timely. The struggles of the newcomers--especially in learning English--are highlighted, but with an undercurrent of patience and hope. Salma and her mother already have a great network of new friends who understand each other's emotions because they're all going through something similar.

The illustrations are quite cute. They have an almost retro-animation sort of style, complemented by geometric ornaments and patterns. The pictures work really well with the story.

Overall, this is a strong book about the emotional side of a child immigrant's experience. I enjoyed getting to know Salma and her friends... and learning a little bit about Syrian cooking.

Thank you to NetGalley and Annick Press for providing a digital ARC.

Premise: 4/5
Meter: n/a
Writing: 3/5
Illustrations: 4/5
Originality: 4/5

Enjoyment: 4/5

Overall: 3.83 out of 5

No comments:

Post a Comment