01 November 2011

Habibi by Craig Thompson

Take one look at Habibi and you know you are in for a masterpiece from the author/illustrator of Blankets.  This thick tomb of story and artwork is completely captivating, thought-provoking, and inspirational.

The story is told in pieces, skipping delicately through time.  Dodola first met Zam when she was a teenager and he was only three years old, both of them orphans with no money, no food, and no home.  Dodola saves Zam and they find an abandoned ship in the dried-up dessert to make their home, and she cares for Zam as though he is her own child.  She finds them food each day, and Zam finds their water supplies.  Of course as Zam grows older, he becomes more and more curious -- both of their living situation and survival, as well as of Dodola as a woman.  When he follows her one day and finds that she trades her body to men for their food, he ventures to the village hoping to be able to provide for her, and for them.  This growth and this journey separate them.

This is the story of how they come back together again.

Told beautifully in words and images, the Arabic language revealed as art in and of itself, the reader is immersed in the hardships of poverty, the abuse of power and strength, and the joy found in shared experience, passion, and hope.  Recommended to all adults.

Reviewed by kate the librarian.

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