A Strange Adventure
While Hind is examining the contents of a straw basket she got as a present from her Aunt, she is suddenly transported to a very strange world where thread spools talk and a lobster plays a musical instrument. But all is not well in this beautiful place. There is an impending danger in the air. Will Hind and her friends be able to save the day? An exciting story that is full of fantasy and adventure.
Parent and Teacher guide
We express ourselves through many different mediums like writing, music, art and through embroidery.
Hind is fascinated by her aunt’s passion for embroidery. Her aunt Suehyla tells her that embroidery not only makes things beautiful but also tells us stories about how people lived and what was important to them. Hind is delighted when her aunt offers to teach her how to embroider and decides to embroider a small mat for her Mom’s coffee cup.
Aunt Suehyla shows her symbols and motifs in embroidery that depict animals, plants and other items from the surrounding environment.
An imaginary adventure ensues where Hind finds herself in “Embroidery Land” with a red thread spool as her guide.
She meets snakes and lions that look very much the same as the ones she saw on her aunt’s cushions. The thread spool assures her that they will not harm her.
A flock of birds carrying a long stick helps her down from a high tree. A lobster in a hurry invites her to his concert by the lake. There she meets a beautiful swan who sails her around the lake.
The idyllic scene is shattered by the arrival of "Dark Shadow" who proceeds to take over the place by gobbling up all the colorful designs.
Hind jumps to the rescue and threads the needles with different color threads. The needles then work fast and hard to return the colorful designs to where they belong and kick “Dark Shadow “from their land.
Points for discussion:
-An art form is passed on from one generation to the other. Each generation adds to this art form and it all becomes a part of the national identity.
-Some of the symbols in the embroidery are hundreds of years old. Other may come from the interaction of the society with other cultures like the swan and the harp motifs. This shows us that this is a vibrant society that incorporates new ideas and forms into its traditional design.
Example: Palestinian embroidery
-Cherish your traditional products and be proud of them. They inform other of who you are and what your roots are. When we want to tell others about our culture we may wear our national dress, have them listen to our national music and taste our national food.
- Imagination is a great thing. Many times we make up stories about different things we see in our daily life. Have you ever done this? Looked at a picture and imagined yourself in it? Looked at a bird and imagined you could fly? Saw a movie about a super hero and imagined you were a very special super hero?
-Where did the characters in the story come from? How did the writer imagine them?
- There is always danger that surrounds us even in the most beautiful places. In every story there is good and there is evil. How did the writer imagine the evil to be? What did Dark Shadow want to do?
- In the story the flowers and other embroidery motifs represent the culture and “Dark Shadow “represents the threat posed to the culture, as “Dark Shadow” has the ability to erase the colorful motifs and take over their space.
- Discuss how the colorful motifs defended themselves from “ Dark Shadow” to make sure that the danger does not return the colorful motifs realize that they have to stay united and well prepared. This is symbolized here by “making the stitches tight” so they cannot be unraveled easily.
-Discuss how in the story as in life taking the first step is always scary and difficult. Hind decides to take the first step when she takes hold of the edge of the thread to be able to reach her destination. There is an expression in Arabic that explains this which is امسكوا طرف الخيط which translates loosely to “take the first step”
-Giving a gift. Is it better to buy a gift for your mother or make one for her. Which do you think she would appreciate more and why? What did Hind plan to gift her mother?
About the Author
Taghreed Najjar is a pioneer of modern children's literature in Jordan. A graduate of the American University of Beirut, Taghreed started her career as a teacher before becoming a full time writer of picture books and young adult novels. Her YA novels have been celebrated widely by her readers and various schools in the region have adopted them as part of their curriculum. A number of her books have won awards while others have been translated into foreign languages like English, Swedish, Turkish, French and Chinese.
One of her most critically acclaimed works is a series of ten picture books revolving around six-year old Jude and her family and friends.'The Halazone Series', deals with everyday childhood issues which are treated with humor and deftness by the author. One of Taghreed’s pet projects was collecting old Arabic children rhymes and publishing them in book and digital form to make them accessible to the modern child and family. She published two collections of rhymes, the latest entitled 'Musical Tickles' was selected by the National Centre for Children's Literature (a service of the French National Library) as one of the best publications in the Arab World in 2012/2013.
Taghreed is a member of the Jordanian Writer’s Association and takes part in international and regional conferences and workshops that deal with children literature.
About the Illustrator
Charlotte is a French illustrator, married to a Palestinian and has been living in the Middle East with her family and pens for many years now. After studying applied arts and animation in France and England, she worked as a volunteer in an Arabic speaking school, a press photographer, a librarian, and an art teacher. Finally Charlotte came back to her passion and settled happily on being a freelance illustrator. Since then, Charlotte has been having a great time creating images for very different kinds of projects, from brand characters to children’s books, mobile apps, websites and videos. One of her greatest satisfactions is to be an active part of the emerging Arab literature market; two of the books she illustrated were produced and distributed for free by a philanthropic society to every child attending kindergarten.