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Children's Fiction Emigration & Immigration

Dounia and the Magic Seeds

by (author) Marya Zarif

translated by Yvette Ghione

Owlkids Books Inc.
Initial publish date
Mar 2023
Emigration & Immigration, Fantasy & Magic, Multigenerational, Middle East
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Mar 2023
    List Price

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Where to buy it

Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels

  • Age: 5 to 8
  • Grade: 5 to 12


When fleeing her war-ravaged home, a young girl brings four magic seeds to help her family on their difficult journey

Dounia loves her home in Aleppo, Syria, and all of its wonderful smells, sights, and traditions. But when war breaks out, Dounia and her grandparents must flee their home to find safety. Before they go, their neighbor reads their future in a cup of coffee and sees a long, difficult journey ahead, and a blue house waiting at the end.

With only a bird carved from Aleppo soap and four little baraké seeds in her pocket, Dounia and her family face dangerous waters, a camp surrounded by barbed wire, and unfriendly soldiers. Remembering the ancient knowledge that baraké seeds ward off evil, Dounia pulls one from her pocket to use for each of the threats her family faces. Magically, the seeds help the family along their way, until they finally find the blue house prophesied by their neighbor.

Elegant, eye-catching artwork beautifully illustrates one young girl’s strength and resilience as she takes an active part in her own destiny.

About the authors

MARYA ZARIF was born in Aleppo, in northern Syria. She is a multidisciplinary and multiplatform artist, and the author, designer, and co-director of the animated series Dounia, broadcast on both Télé-Québec and CBC Gem. The book that the series was inspired by is dedicated to her five aunts. She currently lives in Montreal, Quebec.

Marya Zarif's profile page

Yvette Ghione's profile page


  • Commended, Best Books for Kids and Teens
  • Short-listed, Top Grade Spring Picks

Editorial Reviews

"This book mixes fantasy with reality to help tell the incredible and harrowing story of migration ... a timely and impactful story."

Children’s Literature Comprehensive Database

"A moving refugee story laced with optimism and magic."

Kirkus Reviews

"Zarif has created a powerful and evocative story about the Syrian refugee crisis."

The Globe and Mail

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