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Monday, May 3, 2010

The Sandwich Swap, by Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah, and Kelly DePucchio, illustrated by Tricia Tusa. Hyperion, H B Fenn, 2010. $19.99 4 +

"It all began with a peanut butter and jelly sandwich...
and it ended with a hummus sandwich."

The first book I read from Ian Wallace, a Canadian author and illustrator, was called The Sandwich. It was the story of a young Italian boy whose parents packed him a school lunch every day with a provolone and mortadella sandwich. You can imagine the smell and the catcalls that he endured whenever he opened his lunch bag. The book was published in 1998 and its message was cultural diversity.

Fast forward twelve years and we have another sandwich story, with a somewhat similar message of tolerance and understanding. Queen Rania wrote it with a personal incident in mind...a school friend who had a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for lunch. It almost made Her Majesty gag! It certainly made her turn up her nose until she tried it....mmm! mmm! good!

And so it is for Lily and Salma in this lovely new book about friendship and the differences that make us so special. The two did everything together. They played, worked and ate lunch in tandem. They ate different things and, while both had strong feelings about the other's lunch, they never revealed them. Until Lily couldn't hold it in any longer...'your sandwich looks kind of yucky'. When Salma thought about what Lily had said and about the love her mother put into providing her lunch, Salma was hurt and then MAD! And the fight was on...

Back and forth it went until lunch was done and they returned to their classroom. It did not end there. It carried over to the next day, and the next...and it began to include their friends and choosing sides in the nasty battle about first food, and then many other rude things. It resulted in a FOOD FIGHT and shame for the trouble they had unleashed. A visit to the principal was the final straw.

The following day the two friends were, once again, sitting together for lunch when Lily asked Salma if she would like to taste her sandwich. Salma bravely, and happily, said she would. And reciprocated with the same offer. Soon they were sharing each other's sandwich. Guess what??? They had been wrong. A second trip to the principal had a much happier outcome.

When I saw Queen Rania on Good Morning America she talked about writing this book in hopes that it might inspire readers to acceptance of differences. She believes that the more you embrace diversity, the more enriched your life is. After all, we are more alike than we are different. If you want to hear Her Majesty read her book, check for it on YouTube.

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