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Julie Hakim Azzam

About Julie Hakim Azzam

Julie Hakim Azzam teaches in the English department at the University of Pittsburgh. While her academic specialization is on literature from Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia, she has a passion for children’s literature and has been interviewing children’s authors for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette for many years.

Review of We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga

We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga by Traci Sorell; illus. by Frané Lessac Primary    Charlesbridge    32 pp. 9/18    978-1-58089-772-3    $17.99 e-book ed.  978-1-63289-633-9    $9.99 “Cherokee people say otsaliheliga to express gratitude. It is a reminder to celebrate our blessings and reflect on struggles — daily, throughout the year, and across the seasons.” An extended family engages with […]

Review of The Unwanted: Stories of the Syrian Refugees

The Unwanted: Stories of the Syrian Refugees by Don Brown; illus. by the author Middle School, High School    Houghton    105 pp. 9/18    978-1-328-81015-1    $18.99 e-book ed.  978-1-328-56104-6    $13.99 There are over five million Syrian refugees around the world today, and each one has a unique story. Brown returns to the comics format of Drowned City […]

Gendered reading and audiobooks

My daughter became a bookworm this year, reading middle grade novels by Carl Hiaasen, Kate Beasley, Robert Beatty, and Erin Entrada Kelly. She read before bed, and while eating breakfast and brushing her teeth. When she finished a book, she’d pass it along to me, and we’d discuss it. I felt excited about this new […]

Review of I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter audiobook

I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L. Sánchez; read by Kyla Garcia High School    Listening Library    Rev. 3/18 8 CDs    9.7 hrs.    978-1-5247-8224-5    $60.00 When her older sister, Olga, dies, Julia discovers Olga was not the “perfect Mexican daughter” everybody thought she was. Julia, who longs to be a writer and leave […]

Review of New Shoes

New Shoes by Chris Raschka; illus. by the author Preschool    Greenwillow    32 pp. 5/18    978-0-06-265752-7    $17.99 Children are often reminded to look up, not down at their feet while walking. Not so in this picture book that celebrates preschoolers’ close connection to the ground. Raschka illustrates the book from the perspective of a child narrator, […]

Finding the Right Shoes: Reading War Stories with Kids

It was the late 1980s, during a period known for car bombs in the Lebanese civil war. I was a child living in suburban Chicago, but the majority of my extended family was still in Beirut, experiencing a horrific war. I heard stories of the war in newspapers, letters, and over scratchy long-distance phone calls. […]

Review of Can I Touch Your Hair?: Poems of Race, Mistakes, and Friendship

Can I Touch Your Hair?: Poems of Race, Mistakes, and Friendship by Irene Latham and Charles Waters; illus. by Sean Qualls and Selina Alko Primary, Intermediate    Carolrhoda    40 pp. 1/18    978-1-5124-0442-5    $17.99 e-book ed.  978-1-5124-7214-1    $9.99 This clever book of poetry is about finding an unexpected friend. Classmates Irene and Charles (also the names of […]

Review of That Is My Dream!

That Is My Dream! by Langston Hughes; illus. by Daniel Miyares Primary    Schwartz & Wade/Random    32 pp. 10/17    978-0-399-55017-1    $17.99 Library ed.  978-0-399-55018-8    $20.99 e-book ed.  978-0-399-55019-5    $10.99 Langston Hughes’s 1924 poem “Dream Variation” tells of a wish “to fling my arms wide / In some place of the sun, / To whirl and to dance / Till […]

What are we laughing at? Children’s literature and ADHD

It’s been a hard day. You know—the kind of day when you go to pick your kid up from day camp only to be besieged by teachers and staff who each deliver reports of your kid’s terrible, no-good behavior. It’s the usual complaints. Not listening. Not following directions. Not paying attention. Not obeying a teacher’s […]

Confessions of a (Failed) Battle of the Books Coach

Dear Reader, I have a confession to make: I am a failed Battle of the Books coach. And I am in need of your help. It started out with good intentions, as many things do. In the empty days that follow the end of the school year, when our minds and sleeping schedules were still […]