Amani longs to be a shepherd like her beloved grandfather Sido, who has tended his flock for generations, grazing sheep on their family’s homestead near Hebron. Amani loves Sido’s many stories, especially one about a secret meadow called the Firdoos. But as outside forces begin to encroach upon this hotly contested land, Amani struggles to find suitable grazing for her family’s now-starving herd. While her father and brother take a more militant stance against the intruding forces, Amani and her new American friend Jonathan accidentally stumble upon the Firdoos and begin to realize there is more to life than fighting over these disputed regions. Amani learns a difficult lesson about just what it will take to live in harmony with those who threaten her family’s way of life.
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Grade 5–8—Palestinian teen Amani tends her extended Muslim family's sheep alongside her beloved grandfather, Seedo, and helps tend their vineyards and olive groves. When their quiet rural life is disturbed by Israeli settlers encroaching on their land, Amani's uncle reacts with anger, while her father tries to resist peacefully with the help of a sympathetic rabbi. After Seedo dies, Amani has sole responsibility for the diminishing flock and experiences physical threat and gunfire from the settlers as well as friendship with their son, who just wants to return to New York. The tension escalates until Amani's family compound is destroyed, and her father and uncle are imprisoned. Carter strikes a splendid balance in character development, portraying both parties' flaws while demonstrating Palestinian sympathies. Background and cultural information are seamlessly woven into the narrative, which is written simply and clearly in a skillful depiction of a sensitive situation.—Joyce Adams Burner, formerly at Hillcrest Library, Prairie Village, KS
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