Mrs. Jawaher and Her Cats
Mrs. Jawaher’s only grandson, 5 year old Mansour, lives abroad with his family. No matter how hard Mrs. Jawaher tries, she finds it hard to connect with Mansour via the internet. Mansour is always busy with his toys and only responds with a quick hello before resuming his activities. Thanks to a surprise happening, Mansour bonds with his Grandma and both look forward to the upcoming visit of the family to their home country. A fun story about a long distance relationship between a Grandma and her only grandson. It may be the story of many grandmas’ today.
Parent and Teacher guide
Mrs. Jawaher- The lady who loves cats- is a story about families and relationships. Many families nowadays live miles apart because of work or study. Whereas it is easy for Grandparents to bond with their grandchildren when they live in the same place. It is another story completely when they live far away from each other. Thanks to modern technology they can stay connected but still it is not the same and they have to work hard to make a warm and genuine connection with their grandchildren.
Grandma Jawaher tries her hardest with Mansour but he is busy with his own games and toys and his father has to urge him to “talk’ to his Grandma.
Grandma Jawaher loves cats and they keep her company and amuse her. One particular cat gets attached to her and follows her home. She calls her Nousa and leaves her a milk bowl on the doorstep. One day Nousa disappears and Mrs. Jawaher is sad thinking that she had lost her, but Nousa surprises her by bringing her five kittens for safe keeping. The kittens bring Mansour and Grandma close together and he helps name them and look after them long distance. Now they have lots to talk about and discuss when they connect on the internet.
Here are some discussion points:
1- Discuss the different kinds of relationships kids have with their grandparents. Some grandparents live in the same house, others live in the same neighborhood or city while others live abroad. They all have one thing in common, they love their grandchildren and want to make a connection with them.
2- Grandparents are also different, many of them are active and still working and have many interests. Grandma Jawaher works as a freelance translator and loves cats. This helps change the prevailing stereotype of Grandmas in Arabic children literature where they are mostly portrayed as frail old women on a rocking chair telling stories.
3- Grandparents are people too and have needs and different feelings. Mrs. Jawaher is independent and still working but she lives alone. . Could she also be lonely and needs company? Is that why she sits in the park and feeds the cats? Discuss
4- Discuss what it means to be old. What can old people do and what can’t they do? What do they need?
5- Another discussion point can be on how technology has positive aspects and helps brings families together even though they live miles apart. Discuss how technology can also be negative how people sometimes visit each other or their grandmas and are busy with their phones or tablets instead of Connecting with each other.
6- Discuss pets vs. stray animals. Do animals know who is kind to them? Do they have feelings? Why did Nousa choose to take her kittens to stay with Mrs. Jawaher?
7- Discuss How children and grandparents can learn from each other. In the story Mansour helps his Grandmother find names for each kitten. Can children teach their Grandparents other things? Technology for instance. What can children learn from grandparents?
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
Zainab attributes her love of drawing and design to her childhood. She started drawing from a very early age inspired by the cartoons that she used to watch. As she grew up Zainab was influenced by her father a famous architect and her uncle who is an artist and admits that their guidance and direction really helped her at the start of her career. In 2002 she moved with her family to Jordan and decided to study Architecture, as Zainab believes that architecture is the 'father' of all art. She is now getting ready to study masters in animation design in the UK and hopes she will one day open her own animation house and revive old Iraqi and Arabic folk tales. Zainab has published three books with Al Salwa Publishers entitled “Nashma and Jassem”, “Kaak” and a young adult novella entitled “Raghda's Hat”.