Saturday, May 28, 2022

Q&A with Reem Faruqi



Reem Faruqi is the author of the children's picture book Amira's Picture Day. Her other books include Lailah's Lunchbox. She immigrated from the United Arab Emirates to Georgia as a teenager, and she lives in Atlanta.


Q: What inspired you to write Amira’s Picture Day, and how did you create your character Amira?


A: Years ago, my daughter was sick on Picture Day and devastated to miss her class photo. We actually took her to school late just for her photo (this was pre-covid times!) and then took her back home.


I remembered on Eid how we sometimes missed important days at school because we went to the masjid instead for the Eid prayer and celebration. I wanted to showcase the struggles a Muslim child might go through when a religious holiday falls on a school day. It can be hard wanting to be in two places at once!


I also have a niece called Amira so I used her name for the character.


Q: What do you think Fahmida Azim's illustrations add to the story?


A: I think her illustrations MAKE the story. Every time I read the book, I see something new and fun in there. The details are beautiful, colorful, and vibrant. She added humor to places where there wasn’t any humor before.


In the words of my parents who saw the book for the first time, “Fahmida is the real deal!”


Q: The Kirkus Review of the book says, “Faruqi effectively builds up the excitement to celebrate Eid and balances it with Amira’s distress at missing Picture Day—readers will see that both are important.” What do you think of that description, and what do you hope kids take away from the story?


A: I love that description as it captures my book and they gave us a starred review! I hope children will see that it is important for all children to get the opportunity to celebrate their religious holidays no matter what.


Q: How did you first get interested in writing for kids?


A: I’ve always loved working with children. Since I became an elementary school teacher, I remember the peaceful feeling I got when I pulled a book out at Read Aloud time.


When I gave up teaching to stay home to care for my children, I tried to write a children’s book. It took many tries and years before I finally got an offer on my first book, Lailah’s Lunchbox.


Q: What are you working on now?


A: A verse novel about a table tennis playing boy! I'm also reviewing the art for an upcoming chapter book of mine, Anisa’s International Day. Lastly, I'm reading as many books as I can because it's just so much fun and I call it my research.


Q: Anything else we should know?


A: You can find me at – I’ve been photoblogging there since 2011! Thank you SO much for having me today Deborah!


--Interview with Deborah Kalb

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