Monday, September 4, 2017

"From Far Away" - a bookwrap

Unwrapping the backstory as to why this book was even written

"From Far Away" started with this letter:

To Robert Munsch:

I am a little girl. My name is Saoussan. I am seven years old. I am in grade two now. I came to Canada one and half year ago. I didn’t know how to speak English at all. I was just sitting and listening. A lot of funny things happened to me.
Children were trying to talk to me, but I was not able to answer them. I began to talk a little by little.
I finished grade one and now I am in grade two. The teacher now is complaining to my dad that I am talking a lot in the class and I read and write a lot of stories.
One day I found a book called Thomas’s Snowsuit. I read it and I laughed with my family.
I went to the library and I brought some of your books. I enjoyed reading them. I even read them to my dad that he laughed so hard he could not stop laughing.
Please come to our school we want to hear a story from you and we want to see you.
I wrote back and asked her what “funny things” had happened. Saoussan wrote back telling me about her first Halloween in Canada:

To: Robert Munsch:

Thank you for your letter. My teacher read it to the class and he said: I am not going to tell the class the funny thing that happened to her when she was in kindergarten and I am not going to embarrass you.
I don’t remember all of the funny things. But I remember one thing.
When I wanted to go to the washroom I didn’t know how to say I want to go to the washroom. That’s why I used to crawl to the door and when the teacher turns her head and looks at the other side I crawl under my friend’s desk and when someone opens the door I crawl out and go to the washroom.
When I come back from the washroom I wait beside the door and when someone opens the door I crawl in and go to my desk.
Once I crawled to the washroom. When I opened the washroom door I saw a skeleton. Then I screamed: Aaaaahhhhhhhhh!
Everybody came out. My teacher, Mrs. Garwan came, opened the washroom door and she tried to tell me that it is Halloween time and the skeleton is paper.
I didn’t understand her and I didn’t know what Halloween is.
She jumped up and down and danced around to explain to me that Halloween is just fun, but I thought the skeleton made her crazy and I screamed louder.
Then she hugged me to make me feel better and I jumped on her lap and the pee went down my knees. She put me down because she got wet.
Now I am in grade 2/3 and I am the best reader and speller in the class. This year when it was Halloween I weared a mask and a costume and we did a party at school. Then I went with my sister trick or treating to the neighbours.
Please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please come to our school.
I liked her letters so much that I decided to turn them into a book.
So Saoussan and I wrote a lot of letters back and forth and we made the letter into a book. Saoussan and I are both the authors and we split the royalties.

Unwrapping today's featured book

"From Far Away"

Authored by Robert Munsch and Saoussan Askar
Art by Rebecca Green

Ages 5-8
Grades 1-2 (PS-3)

Some wonderful illustrations for you to enjoy

About the book...

This real-life story was first published in 1995.  With all the turmoil and immigration movement in our world at the present time the story seems even more relevant today.  

Seven-year old Saoussan and her family immigrate to Canada from Lebanon because of the war and danger they are experiencing in their native land.  She attends a school in Toronto and has a very difficult time adjusting because of her language barrier and her unfamiliarity with Canadian customs and people.  Frightened and feeling misplaced she takes it upon herself to fit in (and she does) by learning the language and becoming quite proficient in reading and writing.  I love the diversity of the students in her class with one little one in a wheelchair. The kids all work hard to accept her and make her feel safe and part of their class.  Her sensitive, caring teacher carefully takes her new student under her wing and helps ease her into her new lifestyle and new Canadian homeland.  

This heartfelt story is illustrated beautifully depicting emotions and feelings of Saoussan, her family and those around her at her school.  The authors include a message from the real Saoussan, now all grown up, to conclude and give closure to her story.  I highly recommend this book and suggest that every classroom and school library have a copy to share and discuss.

Storywraps rating - 5 HUGS!!!!!

About the authors

Robert Munsch was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He moved to Guelph, Ontario, in 1975. Every year Munsch receives thousands of letters from young fans. He likes to meet the children who send him mail, which sometimes leads to another story. Of his hectic touring schedule, he says simply, “I love it! One of the nicest things about my job is traveling across North America and meeting all kinds of people.”
He lives with his wife and three children: Julie, Andrew and Tyya

Please check out more information at:

Saoussan Askar was born in Lebanon during the civil war, and immigrated with her parents and older sister to Toronto in 1989. A few of her favourite books as a child were Winnie the Pooh, \Miss Nelson is Missing, and The Secret Garden.
She attended Ellesmere Public School before entering a bilingual program at J.B. Tyrrell Senior Public School. She continued her education at York University, graduating with a Bachelor of Health Studies before moving to Montreal to complete a Master of Arts in Sociology.
Saoussan has always enjoyed writing, a natural outcome of her strong love of reading. When she was in Grade 5, she wrote a letter to author superstar Robert Munsch, telling him about her experiences as a child immigrant. Munsch was so taken with her story that he agreed to work with Saoussan to turn it into a book. From Far Away was first published in 1995, and has been re-issued in Fall 2017 with new illustrations by Rebecca Green.

Saoussan’s other interests include baking, reading, traveling, kickboxing, and making her own health and beauty products. She lives in London, Ontario.

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