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One of the major challenges facing any reader (especially a student trying to master a complex language like English) is to become engaged with the words on the page. This is really the fi rst step in a magical transformation: the reader fi rst decodes and comprehends words, then the symbols disappear as the reader is caught up in with the images and emotions of the story. Khetam Dahi carefully prepares ESL students for this “magic carpet” transition: the images in her stories are clear, the dramatic content is compelling, her characters are relatable (especially her schoolgirl narrator) and the “lessons” are moral and spiritual, as well as grammatical/syntactical. Telling her stories from the perspective of a Syrian immigrant, Ms. Dahi gives a loving account of her childhood on a farm near the city of Homs in Syria. A few Arabic words add spice and authenticity to the home, fi elds and school portrayed in vivid detail. Her primary purpose, however, is to add new English words to the ESL student’s vocabulary, thus equipping readers to use these concepts to construct sentences of their own, following the author’s precise directions. It is rare to see the talents of teacher and story-teller so artfully combined. Whether or not her readers are aware of the cataclysm that consumes her native land today, Ms. Dahi’s portrait of a peaceable Syria from her childhood offers a beautiful tribute to her culture, and an expert teacher’s challenging, yet comprehensible lessons in English.
--- John Rude, Associate Dean of Resource & Institutional Development, and English Instructor
Professor Dahi is one of those exceptional teachers who is able, with enthusiasm and energy, to use her own experience as an immigrant to connect with students and make them feel inspired and comfortable enough to do the hard work of learning English as a second language. With this book she has managed to capture that lightning in a bottle with deeply engaging stories that illuminate not only the international experience but the experiences at the very core of human nature. Rich storytelling and innovative pedagogy are the roots of this textbook sure to produce endless blossoms of fl ourishing English learners.
---Jeff Gray, Assistant Professor of English
I loved the book! It reminded me of the time I was a child and lived with my family on a farm in Kansas. I had a hideout in a huge culvert that ran right next to a mulberry tree. I practically lived there with books and snacks in the summer months. Khetam Dahi’s story of the mouse made me laugh uncontrollably and reminded me of the time in fi rst grade when I fl opped down on the toilet, the seat left up by one of the boys, and had to go back out to class dripping like a wet sponge. The end of the book is shocking and a perfect ending to signal the end of an era and the beginning of a new one. The author’s openness gives a comic touch to her stories that keeps one eager to fi nd out what denouement will occur in each chapter. I totally enjoyed the book to the very end.
--- Arleta Roberts, high school English teacher