We interviewed Fawzia about her newest picture book, Yaffa and Fatima, Shalom, Salaam, a story that celebrates the friendship between and Jewish and a Muslim girl.
KB: What was your favorite book when you were a child?
FGW: I didn’t have a favorite. I particularly enjoyed the Favorite Fairy Tales Told in series by Virginia Haviland. I also loved reading stories about the prophets of God.
KB: What’s your favorite line from a book?
FGW: "My Lord, build for me near You a house in Paradise."
KB: Why did you want to become an author or illustrator?
FGW: It wasn’t a conscious goal. As a teacher I was confronted with the realization that my students from minority groups were invisible in children’s books. So I tried to address that gap. When I first arrived in the USA, I was impressed with the number of books that were available in public libraries about Hanukkah, and I thought this was very encouraging. I grew up with books that were entirely Anglo-centric. It’s quite widely known that when children feel a sense of belonging and a sense of honor for their families and communities, they are emotionally resilient, confident and can negotiate difficulties and challenges. These are all wellness elements in allowing positive self-development and learning. Children's books commonly discuss themes that are used to encourage children to undertake a grand role in society. When children don’t see themselves in books it sends a subliminal message of worth. As a teacher I understood the importance of children seeing themselves, their families and community in the literature. ‘Mirror books’ are commonly referred to as books that promote a child’s positive self-development and these are the types of books that I aspire to.
KB: Where did you get the inspiration for your latest Kar-Ben book?
FGW: My book was inspired by a tale which can be found in both the Jewish and Arab traditions. It’s a tale about two brothers who secretly help each other. The story revolves around love, sharing, kindness and compassion - the essential ingredients that make people and the world beautiful.
KB: What are you most excited about promoting in your new book?
The message of peace and being a good neighbor. The message that we actually can all work together to make the world a better place. I’m delighted to be promoting the message of peace.
KB: How do you hope your book will impact a child’s life?
FGW: I hope that my book impacts the life of a Jewish child and a Muslim child and other children by showing them that caring for another person is entirely necessary on the sole premise that every person belongs to God. As a result the inalienable right of every human being on the planet is to be safe and free and kindness is endemic to both of these rights. I hope the story underscores the importance of being a good neighbor on a micro level and a macro level.
Get your copy of Yaffa and Fatima, Shalom, Salaam today.