Friday, May 29, 2015

The Day of Ahmed’s Secret 
 By Florence Parry Heide & Judith Heide Gilliland
 Illustrated by Ted Lewin

Awards: School Library Journal Best Book of the Year

You just never know which students you are going reach, which students whose imaginations you are going to touch, when you introduce different cultures to them.  

The more we do, the more cultural tolerance and acceptance grows. 

Book Talk
We meet Ahmed, who is our narrator. He tells the reader right away that he has a secret, building curiosity and suspense. Ahmed is excited about the secret and readers will sense that his secret is very special, but we have to wait to learn what it is, as Ahmed has a big job to do this particular day.

Ahmed takes us through his busy day and from his narrative he introduces us to his city and his culture.  Ahmed is able to help his family business by delivering canisters of butane gas to different customers across the city of Cairo, Egypt. 

As readers follow Ahmed through the bustling streets of Cairo-passing camels, carts, and cars- Ahmed explains his job and responsibilities. Beautifully woven into his narrative are explanations of the busy city life, the culture and the wonderful people of Cairo. From Ahmed’s descriptions, I could almost hear the sounds and see the colors of Cairo myself!

Some favorite lines: “Over all the noise I hear my name, “Ahmed! Ahmed!” And my name becomes part of the city sound too.  It is Hassan calling to me. He leans over the counter of his cart, and the bright colors of the cart mingle with the other colors of the street, the way the noises all go together to make the sound of the city.”

Ted Lewin’s illustrations are excellent and grasp the ‘busy-ness’ and the fascinating tempo of the streets of Cairo full of: people, stalls, animals, vendors, carts, shops, colors, bargaining, chatting, laughter and more!

Ahmed reminds us that he does have his secret that he cannot wait to share with his family.

He does at the end—a lovely secret and a lovely surprise for his family!

Suggested Uses as a Mentor Text:
Book Genre: Memoir
Reading Workshop strategies: Predicting, Analyzing, Inferring, 
Writing Workshop Genre: Personal Narrative, Memoir, Strong Endings
Curricular Themes: Middle East Studies, We Need Diverse Books

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