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Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah (www.queenrania.jo) of Jordan is dedicated to defending the welfare of children around the world: she is UNICEF's Eminent Advocate for Children. Known also as a champion of cross-cultural tolerance and a campaigner for global education, Her Majesty collaborates with international organizations and grassroots projects in these areas. Kelly DiPucchio (www.kellydipucchio.com) has written several children's picture books, including the New York Times best-seller Grace for President, Bed Hogs, and Mrs. McBloom, Clean Up Your Classroom! Kelly lives in Macomb Township, Michigan. Tricia Tusa has more than forty children's books to her name, including In a Blue Room by Jim Averbeck, which garnered a Charlotte Zolotow Honor from the Cooperative Children's Book Center at the University of Wisconsin, and Fred Stays with Me by Nancy Coffelt, which received a Boston Globe?HornBook Honor. Tricia lives in Galisteo, New Mexico.
In her author's note, Jordanian royal Al Abdullah explains that an incident from her childhood inspired this story about best friends who do everything together at school, including eat lunch. Lily's choice of sandwich is peanut butter and jelly while Salma's is hummus on pita, and each girl thinks the other's fare is "weird" or "gross." When Lily finally vocalizes her opinion, the two exchange heated words, leading schoolmates to take sides and toss out nastier insults ("You look funny! You dress dumb!"), eventually escalating into a messy, cafeteria-wide food fight. Message trumps realism: the speed with which the girls make peace-after sampling one another's sandwiches-is as unlikely as the food fight itself. A foldout spread amplifies the readily apparent themes of acceptance and sharing, as the girls and their classmates enjoy a buffet of international foods. Featuring pastel hues, Tusa's (Fred Stays with Me!) wispy mixed-media artwork assuredly depicts the bond between the protagonists and adds dollops of humor-such as the food that gets wedged into the stern lunch lady's bouffant-to this well-intentioned if predictable story. PW" The day Lily stops eating her peanut butter and jelly sandwich to tell Salma her hummus and pita sandwich looks yucky and vice versa is the day they stop being friends. Their collaborative art projects end. They no longer play on the swings or jump rope together, and, at lunch time, they sit at different tables. As their story spreads across the school, so does intolerance. Students begin choosing sides in the cafeteria and calling each other "Jelly heads" and "Chickpea brains." When the two girls get caught in the middle of a food fight and called to the principal's office, they decide it's time to make some changes. The first is accomplished over their sandwich lunch; the second, over a multicultural smorgasbord, the latter depicted on a foldout of an enormous table laden with dishes and flags. Soft watercolor cartoon illustrations portray a lively student body and a slightly forbidding principal. This engaging title reminds children that having the courage to try new things can result in positive experiences. SLJ" The Queen of Jordan is the co-author of this lively picture book based on her nursery-school experiences that taught her to be "open to what seems foreign or strange." Salma and Lily are best friends at school, and lively, double page spreads show the girls having fun, drawing pictures, playing in the schoolyard, and eating lunch together, until one day Lily blurts out that Salma's sandwich (pita bread and hummus) looks kind of yucky, and Salma says the same about her friend's peanut butter and jelly ("looks gross, and it smells bad, too"). The harmonious pictures change to show angry standoffs, and other kids choose sides, shout insults, and begin a huge food fight. Finally, after a visit to the principal's office, Salma and Lily feel ashamed. They taste each other's sandwiches (yummy!), hug, and trade lunch. The story is preachy, and food makes a too-easy peacemaker. But preschoolers will recognize the school drama of friends and enemies and the messy confrontations that are resolved. Booklist"