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Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Queen Rania refuses Hebrew version of her book - on tolerance

From Ha'aretz:
Queen Rania of Jordan has turned down several offers to publish a Hebrew version of a children's book she recently wrote. The book, which was published in the United States by Hyperion under the title "The Sandwich Swap" for children between 4 and 8 years old, was co-written with Kelly DiPucchio and illustrated by Tricia Tusa.

During a promotional campaign for the book, the queen described it as the story of two girls who let the food they bring to school get in the way of their friendship. They disparage each other's food based on their own cultural preconceptions. The two main characters, Lily and Salma, have a lot in common, but not when it comes to their sandwiches: Lily prefers the all-American peanut butter and jelly, while Salma sticks to pita and hummus.

The two learn how to maintain their friendship, despite their cultural differences, but not without a food fight at school in which their classmates take sides. The confrontation ends, however, with a party at which the children exchange sandwiches. The book's message touches open such issues as getting to know others, openness and multiculturalism.
Queen Rania seems to be the poster child for Arab tolerance: it's real important until it comes up against a prejudice that is even more important. Then, of course, prejudice wins.

UPDATE: The Queen denies the story.