Why am I Here? An existential question which we sometime forget that children ask. The author - Lobna Shoukry - takes us through a journey to find the answer through Nour, a young girl who asks a lot of questions. Nour is fascinated with the world that she lives in and is wondering how this universe work. Nour wakes up one day and goes to her mother, where she finds answers to all her questions.
Throughout the book, Nour’s mother is answering all of Nour’s related questions in an honest and genuine way which is very compelling and believable for any child. Even though Nour’s question is very deep, her mother’s answer is very simple “because I love you.” Nour replies to this through another question “Why do you love me?” and the mother explains how she loves Nour’s smile and that she laughs more than she cries, which makes her lovable.
Lobna Shokry links the secret of life to love. We are all her because of love. God loves us so he created us and he created all the beautiful things to make us happy. Then she moves to loving and helping each other “love is making each other happy.” Nour’s questions are continuous, realistic and smart. Even though her questions are diverse, her mother makes sure that all her answers are related to love. The one question which the mother admits that is “hard” is when Nour asks “Where did I come from? Did Daddy bring me home from work?” This is a question which all parents get asked at one point or another. Nour’s mother also related this to love. She mentions how they asked God for a beautiful girl to love and care for. Since God loves us and her parents love each other, they granted them something beautiful – Nour.
One of the things which I enjoyed most in this book is the illustrations. They are beautiful, very colorful and full of life. The “love” theme can be easily detected through the extensive use of pink shades and backgrounds. The drawings are basic yet delicate. It might seem that a child drew Nour and her parents but the details are very professional. I think this is the perfect combination for illustrations in children’s book especially since the target age is very young 5-8.
Nour is a smart girl and it shows through her answers and comments. When a child reads this book he would probably have very similar questions in mind. The parents could elaborate through examples that their child could relate to in order to explain some sensitive concepts like “where do babies come from”. Personally, I think that even young children are smart enough to know that myths like “I ate too much” or “the stork bird delivered you” are not true. This is vivid through Nour’s questions. Instead, children should be provided with something that is closer to the truth. I believe that Lobna Shokry might have found the best approach to tackle this subject. Using love to explain the world we live in is just perfect.
All in all, I absolutely fell in love with this book. I was glad to see such good characterization, ideas and illustrations in an Egyptian book. The quality of the book is also great, which would make it easily competitive with international books of its genre.
Reviewed by Nora Amer
Nour Tasaal Series: Lamaza Ana Hona? (Nour asks: why am I here?)
Author: Lobna Shoukry
Illustrator: Rania Aboul Maaty
Cairo, Dar Al Bostany, 2014
ISBN number: 978-977-450-051-0
Picture book, 6-10 years
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