The Shepherd’s Granddaughter

Amani longs to be a shepherd like her beloved grandfather Sido, who has tended his flock for generations, grazing sheep on their family’s homestead near Hebron. Amani loves Sido’s many stories, especially one about a secret meadow called the Firdoos. But as outside forces begin to encroach upon this hotly contested land, Amani struggles to find suitable grazing for her family’s now-starving herd. While her father and brother take a more militant stance against the intruding forces, Amani and her new American friend Jonathan accidentally stumble upon the Firdoos and begin to realize there is more to life than fighting over these disputed regions. Amani learns a difficult lesson about just what it will take to live in harmony with those who threaten her family’s way of life.

Take a closer look at The Shepherd’s Granddaughter as examined in WOW Review.

Related: Intermediate (ages 9-14), Middle East, Palestine, Realistic Fiction

10 thoughts on “The Shepherd’s Granddaughter

  1. claire fortier says:

    It is unfortunate that pro-Israelis are so “ncomfortable” with a book giving known facts about what is happening to Palestinians. Is seems their “guilt” is getting the better of them. ALl I know is that this raucous has made myself and many others buy and read the book. It is quite the eye opener and it is wonderful to finally let people read about what is truly happening to Palestinians who are attempting to live the life of their forefathers.

  2. Barbara Thompson Boo says:

    Thank you for referring to the WOW Currents: Windows on the World because in it I reference books from both points of view. There ARE books out there which give readers both sides. I wasn’t able to include all of them in that blog, but the point is, that as teachers, we should try to give our students enough material for them to come to their own conclusions. My journey began with The Shepherd’s Granddaughter, but it didn’t end there and it hasn’t ended yet. Reading that book opened my eyes to the fact that I didn’t know both sides, and that I needed to know both sides to do justice to my students.

  3. Samantha says:

    Children feeling uncomfortable is not a reason to not teach them something or to deprive them alternative points of view. By removing this book from the library, an injustice would be done to all children who are deprived of this particular point of view and because it was done to group in particular, the Palestinians, it could be seen as act of discrimination. What if we removed The Diary of Anne Frank because it made German kids uncomfortable? Or books about slavery because they made Caucasian kids uncomfortable? Children need to be challenged in order to develop intellectually and morally.

  4. Peter says:

    I think this is a weird thing to ask…(would you read this book if Jewish kids were in the class?) this book has a point of view. Lots of books have points of view. This book isn’t different in that respect. There are loads of books about the Holocaust, but I don’t know of any that are neutral. And they shouldn’t be. But nobody ever says, “this is just propaganda to make people hate Germans”. And neither should they say any such thing. I don’t recall asking the class if there were any Germans, French, or Italians last time we discussed the Holocaust… we expect a point of view.

    Such is the case here, as well. Is someone out there going to argue that homes are not being demolished? Olive groves not being uprooted? Illegal settlements not growing on Palestinian land? We all know these things to be true: we watched Rachel Corey die, for heaven’s sake. (She was killed by an Israeli army bulldozer-driver who felt it was more important to destroy a home than to avoid killing a defenceless young woman. If you don’t believe me, google it. Watch the video at your peril. It was a deliberate, unapologetic killing.) All this author is doing is telling a story… and it’s a pretty common story in Palestine. If you don’t want to know about what goes on in Palestine/Israel, fine. Don’t learn about it. It might make you uncomfortable.

    If someone wants to write a book about a suicide bomber, they should do so. Should they be required to be sensitive to suicide bombers, or to look for the ‘good side’ of suicide bombers? Of course not. Why would we look for ‘the good side’ when writing about an occupying army?

    If we have to censor our libraries because they might contain points of view which make some people uncomfortable, we should simply waive a white flag and give up right now.

  5. BDE says:

    “Would I read this book with Jewish students in the class?
    No. It’s likely to make them uncomfortable. ” – if the truth makes people uncomfortable it does not make it ok to ignore it. Would you not read a story about the Holocaust to the children of Germans for fear of making them uncomfortable about Germany’s past?

    Perhaps if more Jewish children questioned the Occupation and its origins it would stop being perpetuated.

  6. Kathy Short says:

    Literature provides a way to bring multiple perspectives into the classroom and readers bring their own views and knowledge as well. The decision about whether or not to read a book with a particular student depends on that child, and so it’s hard to say yes or no without knowing that specific reader. If the decision was made to read this book with students, it would be important to bring in other perspectives so that the book does not stand alone. For example, Valerie Zenatti, has written several books from a Jewish Israeli perspective, such as When I Was A Soldier and A Bottle in the Gaza Sea, and Ibtisam Barakat has a memoir about her childhood in Palestine, Tasting the Sky. Reading across multiple perspectives does not force one particular view on readers but allows them to consider the complexity of the issues.

  7. Bob from Toronto says:

    Would I read this book with Jewish students in the class?

    No. It’s likely to make them uncomfortable. In fact, I saw a review written by a Jewish student that said reading it made her feel terrible – and that was her reading it privately, not the teacher reading about the bad Jewish settlers and bad Jewish soldiers to the whole class.

    The more important question is: is it okay to read to non-Jewish students?

    No. That’s worse. Think about it: If you wouldn’t read a book to black students because of what the book says about blacks, would it be okay to read it to the white kids?

    The book clearly takes sides – good Palestinians, bad Israelis – usually referred to specifically as Jewish. The only good Jews in the story (2 of them) are the ones who take the side of the Palestinians.

    The book is closer to propaganda than to education, and as the only book on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that kids in elementary school are likely to be exposed to, it’s appalling. This isn’t a book that belongs in an elementary school library.

  8. Holly Johnson says:

    That’s a question I think we must consider each time we select books where groups of people/cultures may be in conflict. I am thinking about a book I am reading right now on the Civil Rights movement and Birmingham in 1963, which could make African Americans and European Americans uncomfortable depending on the context. I also just finished Bog Child (Dowd, 2008) about Northern Ireland during the Troubles of the 1970s/1980s with the religious issues involved. Both have the potential to make readers uncomfortable. In my own teaching, I made a point of making it explicit that what happens in a book gives readers the opportunity to think through the issues and to consider–from a distance–how we might respond to the issues. I would also assess the climate of my classroom so as to make sure not to insult the young people with whom I worked. Ultimately, we need to select books that engage our students, cause them to think, and to bring about greater understanding of the human condition. We do that, however, with a conscious effort to maintain the dignity of not only the groups represented in the texts, but the students with whom we work. Thus, I would always want to select texts that would benefit students’ thinking and well-being. I can’t know that, however, without knowing my students, talking with them about some of these issues, and then, perhaps, selecting with them and, if developmentally and culturally appropriate, their parents.

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