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Children's Fiction Cooking & Food

Salma the Syrian Chef

by (author) Danny Ramadan

illustrated by Anna Bron

Annick Press
Initial publish date
Mar 2020
Cooking & Food, City & Town Life, New Experience, Emigration & Immigration
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Mar 2020
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Mar 2020
    List Price
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Aug 2022
    List Price

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Where to buy it

Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels

  • Age: 4 to 7
  • Grade: p to 2
  • Reading age: 4 to 7


“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.

About the authors

DANNY RAMADAN is an award-winning Syrian-Canadian author, activist, and public speaker. His work as an activist has helped provide a safe passage to dozens of Syrian LGBTQ+ refugees to Canada. He is the author of two novels for adults, The Clothesline Swing and The Foghorn Echoes, and a forthcoming memoir, Crooked Teeth. Danny lives in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Danny Ramadan's profile page

Anna Bron est née en Russie et a immigré au Canada à l’âge de neuf ans. Elle a eu la chance d’avoir des parents qui l’ont encouragée à faire carrière dans les arts. Adolescente, elle fréquente une école des beaux-arts, puis étudie le cinéma d’animation traditionnel au collège Sheridan. Peu après l’obtention de son diplôme, elle devient illustratrice et animatrice, travaillant sur un large éventail de projets allant de l’illustration de livres et de magazines jeunesse à la conception et réalisation de publicités et de courts métrages. Elle vit à Vancouver, en Colombie-Britannique.

Anna Bron's profile page


  • Nominated, Nutmeg Book Award
  • Short-listed, Chocolate Lily Award, BC Young Readers’ Choice Award
  • Nominated, Blue Spruce Award, OLA
  • Joint winner, Best Bets List, Top Ten, Ontario Library Association
  • Joint winner, A Cooperative Children's Book Center Choice
  • Joint winner, Foreword Indies Award, Silver
  • Nominated, Notable Children’s Books, ALSC
  • Short-listed, Next Generation INDIE Book Award
  • Short-listed, City of Vancouver Book Awards
  • Nominated, Cybils Awards Best Picture Book
  • Short-listed, Christie Harris Illustrated Children’s Literature Prize
  • Joint winner, Nautilus Award
  • Joint winner, Kirkus Best Books List
  • Joint winner, Best Books for Kids & Teens, starred selection, Canadian Children's Book Centre
  • Joint winner, Middle East Book Award
  • Joint winner, Best Books of the Year List, School Library Journal
  • Joint winner, 101 Great Books for Kids, Evanston Public Library
  • Joint winner, Best Books of 2020, CBC

Editorial Reviews

“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

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

The Globe and Mail

“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

“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

“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

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

Waking Brain Cells, 04/20/20

“Truthful, hopeful, and relatable.”

School Library Journal, *starred review, 04/20

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

Publishers Weekly, 02/13/20

“Reinforces the power of community and family love.”

The Toronto Star, 12/13/20

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

The Ladybug Reads, 12/09/19

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

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

“[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

“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

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

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

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