Middle Grade

Sonia Nimr’s ‘Thunderbird’: First in a Time-Traveling Palestinian Fantasy Trilogy

ArabKidLitNow recommends Sonia Nimr’s award-winning middle grade novel, Thunderbird (طائر الرعد).

Awards: Shortlisted for the Etisalat Children Literature Award 2017

Author: Sonia Nimr

Publisher: Tamer Institute

Contact: info@arablit.org

Buy in Arabic: طائر الرعد

Thunderbird begins as the local fortuneteller (a reader of coffee grounds), Umm Arab, has a strange and mysterious prediction for the orphaned Noor’s future. For the last two years, since the untimely deaths of her scientist/archaeologist parents’ in a plane crash, Noor has been living in the old family home with her Uncle Ziad, Aunt Widad, her cousin Wafaa, and her grandmother. Noor’s aunt and cousin do not make her feel welcome. Indeed, they deeply resent her. To make things worse, when Noor gets upset, mysterious fires flare up around her. The only person who believes in her is her beloved and sympathetic grandmother. Her grandmother gives Noor a gift–a strange ring–from her father before she dies.

This fantastic, Harry Potter-esque time traveling novel follows Noor as she hooks up with a cat (who’s really a djinn), discovers that the King of the Djinn needs her help to save the world, and travels back 500 years — although not before she has a harrowing trip through checkpoints to get to contemporary Jerusalem.

We learn about history and folklore as Noor and a girl from 500 years ago — Andaleeb — team up to find the first of the Phoenix feathers that will help them keep the world together.

Extended samples, plot summary, and more available upon request.

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