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Salma the Syrian Chef

By Danny Ramadan
Illustrated by Anna Bron
Interest Age: 4–7
Grade: p–2
Reading Level: Common Core Correlations
CCSS.ELA-Literacy Strand-Reading literature: L.2.3,4,4a,4b,4c,4d,5,5a,5a,6

Reading Level: Lexile 570L
Hardcover (Picture book) : 9781773213750, 40 pages, March 2020 , 11.5" x 9.5"
Paperback (Picture book) : 9781773213743, 40 pages, August 2022 , 11.5" x 9.5"
Ebook (EPUB) : 9781773213767, 40 pages, March 2020
Rights sold: German


“Sure to become a favorite book about overcoming hardships and helping others. This is truly one story not to be missed.” —Provo Library Children’s Book Reviews

17 awards, nominations, and distinctions!

Newcomer Salma and friends cook up a heartwarming dish to cheer up Mama.

All Salma wants is to make her mama smile again. Between English classes, job interviews, and missing Papa back in Syria, Mama always seems busy or sad. A homemade Syrian meal might cheer her up, but Salma doesn’t know the recipe, or what to call the vegetables in English, or where to find the right spices! Luckily, the staff and other newcomers at the Welcome Center are happy to lend a hand—and a sprinkle of sumac.

With creativity, determination, and charm, Salma brings her new friends together to show Mama that even though things aren’t perfect, there is cause for hope and celebration. Syrian culture is beautifully represented through the meal Salma prepares and Anna Bron’s vibrant illustrations, while the diverse cast of characters speaks to the power of cultivating community in challenging circumstances.  


“The bright and expressive illustrations by Bron bring the story to life and will draw in readers of all ages. This is a book to read again and again with children in schools and in homes.”

- Teaching Social Justice with Children’s Books, 11/25/19

“A strong book about the emotional side of a child immigrant’s experience.” 

- The Ladybug Reads, 12/09/19

“Salma is deeply relatable in her determination, frustration, and sensitivity, especially in moments when things do not go as planned. Bron’s illustration style is realistic but brightly expressive . . . she also employs subtle geometric borders that feel directly inspired by Islamic art, which effectively link Salma’s past and present homes.” 

- Quill & Quire, *starred review, 01/20

“This beautiful story grasps diversity, exploring resilience, love, friendship, and the meaning of home.” 

- Kirkus Reviews, *starred review, 01/26/20

“Ramadan writes with poetic immediacy about displacement, home, and family.”

- Publishers Weekly, 02/13/20

“Ramadan builds a heartfelt story of culture, community, and love around the Syrian crisis . . . Tight prose shines through poetic use of simile and a dedication to narrative, with Bron’s art bringing the text’s humanity to life.” 

- Booklist, *starred review, 03/15/20

“[A] sweet (and savory) tale of community, family, and friendship.”

- Forword Reviews, 03/20

“Anna Bron’s vibrant art . . . [is] stunning . . . Danny Ramadan’s gorgeous writing is full of swoonworthy lines. Salma is a character you won’t forget for a long time.”

- Library Matters, 03/14/20

“Heart-aching, yet inspiring story . . . reads like a multi-act play, provides several dimensions for readers to better understand what Salma is facing. The untold stories between the lines unfold a bigger and more powerful picture–the life and experience of refugee and immigrant families. The authentic and vivid illustrations flow perfectly with the story. Anna Bron seamlessly integrates the pictures into the book’s text, thereby allowing readers to enjoy a film-like reading experience  . . .Highly Recommended.” 

- CM Reviews, 03/13/20

“Truthful, hopeful, and relatable.”

- School Library Journal, *starred review, 04/20

“The illustrations provided by Anna Bron add emotion and depth.”

- Youth Services Book Review, *starred review, 01/01/20

“A marvelous look at food, family and community.” 

- Waking Brain Cells, 04/20/20

"This poignant story, and Bron’s lively illustrations, will definitely touch young readers."

- The Globe and Mail

“Sure to become a favorite book about overcoming hardships and helping others. This is truly one story not to be missed.” 

- Provo Library Children’s Book Reviews, 07/13/20

“Reinforces the power of community and family love.” 

- The Toronto Star, 12/13/20