Examining Palestinian Heritage With Upcoming Children’s Book “A Map for Falasteen”

This powerful debut is a collaboration between Maysa Odeh, a Palestinian American author, and Aliaa Betawi, a Palestinian Egyptian illustrator.

Examining Palestinian Heritage With Upcoming Children’s Book “A Map for Falasteen”
Filled with beautiful illustrations and thoughtful back matter, "A Map for Falasteen" is a story of family, resilience and home always being where the heart is. Photo: Macmillan

“A Map for Falasteen: A Palestinian Child's Search for Home” by Maysa Odeh and illustrated by Aliaa Betawi is an upcoming picture book from Macmillan’s Henry Holt and Co. This powerful debut is a collaboration between Odeh, a Palestinian American author, and Betawi, a Palestinian Egyptian illustrator. The book centers a young Palestinian girl in diaspora who must grapple with the erasure of her homeland on a map, turning to her family to better understand her history.

“I wrote this story with a broken heart in 2021, during one of the many assaults on Gaza,” Odeh said in an Instagram post revealing the book’s cover. “I wrote it for our beautiful children who see too much, too soon. Whose big questions stop us dead in our tracks. Whose present and future are worth fighting for. Today, we are grieving again and they are once again bearing witness. There is so much to explain and not nearly enough words. To anyone struggling to begin, I hope this book can help you find your way."

The book is described as follows on the publisher’s website:

A young Palestinian girl living in diaspora struggles to find her homeland on a map in this gentle and heartfelt picture book.
At school, Falasteen and her classmates are tasked with finding their families' home countries on a map, but no matter how hard she looks, Falasteen can't find Palestine.
Can a place exist if it's not on a map? Confused, Falasteen turns to her family for answers. Her grandfather, grandmother and Mama encourage her to see their homeland from a different perspective, and each of their stories helps her understand her people's history and her own place in the world.
Filled with beautiful, inspiring illustrations and thoughtful back matter that outlines key terms and historical moments, this is a story of family, resilience and home always being where the heart is.

“A Map for Falasteen” releases Nov. 19, 2024. You can preorder your copy at the link below.

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