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Saturday, June 1, 2013

The Arab World Thought of It, written by Saima S. Hussain. Annick Press, 2013. $11.95 ages 8 and up

"Strained yogurt is firmer than regular yogurt because much of the liquid has been removed. Long ago, Arabs were nomads who lived in the desert, and they stored camel's milk in bags made of goatskin. The desert heat made liquid evaporate from the milk, turning it into firm yogurt known as labneh. Because it is low in fat and high in protein, labneh is a healthy and nutritious food."

This is the newest in Annick's We Thought of It series; it continues the exemplary work that has been done in bringing cultures of the world to older readers and in providing useful and amazing information concerning inventions and innovations from that perspective.

I am always intrigued to discover the variety of discoveries within a chosen culture and to learn the origins for their development. A timeline introduces the history of the Arab world, beginning in 900 BCE and continuing through to the present. It is followed by a description of the various places of learning..the mosque, the House of Wisdom, free schools and places for advanced learning.

In two page spreads, the author describes contributions in astronomy and flight, in medicine, in arts and crafts, in weapons and war. These are followed with descriptions of food, religion, everyday inventions and architecture. The author tells us that many Arab foods have become popular throughout the world. You have probably tasted some...hummus, pita, chickpeas, dates of all types and halwa:

"Halwa (an Arabic word meaning "sweet") is the name of what is probably the favorite sweet treat in the Arab world. Similar to fudge, halwa can be soft and chewy or a bit hard. Along with the main ingredients - tahini (sesame seed paste) and sugar - halwa contains various nuts and seeds, such as almonds, pistachios, peanuts and sunflower seeds." YUM!

The role of Arab women throughout history and their achievements are mentioned as well as a brief look at the Arab world as it is today. A note about language, the Arabic alphabet, and a section for further reading and selected sources, as well as an index are included in back matter.

It is vital for our children to know other cultures. These books are important in helping them do just that.

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