Dounia and the Magic Seeds by Marya Zarif is an incredibly beautiful and moving picture book celebrating the resilience of the Syrian people escaping for safer ground.
Dounia is a six year old girl whose ”shining hair holds thousands of stories and the kindness in her eyes makes the birds sing”. Her name means ‘the world’ in Arabic and she carries the stories of her world inside of her.
When Dounia and her family are forced to flee Aleppo after their courtyard was bombed, Dounia keeps the four baraka seeds given to her by the spice merchant in her pocket for safe-keeping at her grandmother’s request.
Her family faces plenty of hardships along the way, including a terrible storm as they are traveling by boat and fearful soldiers blocking their passing. But each time, Dounia uses one of the baraka seeds to protect them. Each magical seed brings a particular kind of safety and comfort that protects Dounia and her family.
In the end, the third baraka seed brings the ultimate gift that connects Dounia and her family with their new home.
This book is a tribute to all finding their way within hardship and a testament to the resilience and strength of children making their way to a new country.