Santa Claus in Baghdad and Other Stories about Teens in the Arab World

Santa Claus in Baghdad and Other Stories about Teens in the Arab World

3.2 (68 ratings by Goodreads)
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What is it like to be a young person in the Arab world today? This lively collection of eight short stories about Arab teenagers living in Iraq, Tunisia, Egypt, the West Bank, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, and a Palestinian refugee camp engagingly depicts young people's experiences growing up in the Middle East. The characters, drawn from urban and rural settings and from different classes as well as a mix of countries, confront situations involving friends, family, teachers, and society at large. Along with some specifically Middle Eastern issues, such as strife in Iraq, the hardships of life in a Palestinian refugee camp, and honor crimes, the young people deal with more familiar concerns such as loyalty to friends, overcoming personal insecurities, dreams of a future career, and coping with divorcing parents. Coming of age in a complicated world, they meet life with courage, determination, and, not least of all, humor. With accompanying notes that provide contextual information, Santa Claus in Baghdad brings a fresh perspective to youth literature about the Arab world.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 216 pages
  • 139.7 x 205.74 x 17.78mm | 45.36g
  • Bloomington, IN, United States
  • English
  • black & white illustrations
  • 0253220041
  • 9780253220042
  • 901,757

Table of contents


1. Santa Claus in Baghdad
A story from Iraq (2000)
Do the best gifts always have to come at a high price?
2. Faces
A story from Syria
How can you try to make someone else happy when your own world is coming apart?
3. The Hand of Fatima
A story from Lebanon
Which comes first-loyalty to others or faith in your own dreams?
4. The Olive Grove
A story from Palestine
Just how do you choose your battles?
5. In Line
A story from Egypt
Will a city girl ever feel quite at home in a farming village?
6. Scenes in a Roman Theater
A story from Tunisia
Do you have to wait for the story of your life to change-or can you help to tell it yourself?
7. Honor
A story from Jordan
Whose honor is at stake when a girl breaks the rules?
8. The Plan
A story from a Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon
Can the spring flowers bloom-and love blossom-where hope is so scarce?

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Review quote

A window into often misunderstood and stereotyped Middle Eastern cultures. . . . Marston's sensitive tales feature compelling characters, interesting dilemmas, and vivid language that evoke a Middle East rich in tradition and filled with a love of poetry and learning. -- Lyn Miller-Lachmann * Multicultural Review * . . . Marston's stories, while withholding nothing of the brutality of some of the more controversial aspects of Muslim life, present characters that are three dimensional and easy to empathize with. Her stories are filled with characters that are heroic, generous, and eager to improve their world. * ForeWord * Reading this collection will be invaluable for Arab American YAs and for all in our culture eager to understand the Arab culture, the Middle East conflicts, and current events.July 1, 2008 -- Claire Rosser * Kliatt Magazine * A unique anthology of stories, highly recommended to young adult readers everywhere. * The Midwest Book Review * With annotations that make it especially useful for educational purposes and young readers, a welcome and human glimpse into an often misunderstood culture. * Kirkus Reviews * Though few examples of popular culture depict Arabs in a positive light, Marston's collection is one of the exceptions. Marston, who worked and traveled extensively to the Middle East, has an uncanny ability to understand the Muslim culture and relay her characters' innermost thoughts to Western audiences.July/August 2008 -- Chantal Walvoord * ForeWord * An enjoyable and often surprising collection of stories about Arab teenagers. . . . The characters are complex and interesting, and the Middle Eastern settings are described in rich detail. . . . A good choice for classes discussing this part of the world or multicultural issues in general. * School Library Journal * Author Elsa Marston has written a wonderful book about the Middle East...[a] compelling collection ...offers real insight into why the conflicts continue, contracts what Americans think they know and how little they really know about the causes of the conflicts from the standpoints of innocense and tragedy and perilous lives of young children clouded only by the desire for peace.I read it and I couldn't put it down until I was finished. I hope you will read it too.This book needs to be in every library.Sunday, Dec 14, 2008 -- Ray Hanania * Middle East Book Review and Announcements ( * A realistic portrait of the Middle East that mixes possibility and bleakness in equal measure.August 2008 * Voice of Youth Advocates *
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About Elsa Marston

Elsa Marston is the author of many works of fiction and nonfiction, mostly for young adults. Her books include Women in the Middle East: Tradition and Change, The Cliffs of Cairo, and Muhammad of Mecca, Prophet of Islam. She lives in Bloomington, Indiana.
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Rating details

68 ratings
3.2 out of 5 stars
5 10% (7)
4 28% (19)
3 40% (27)
2 16% (11)
1 6% (4)
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