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Children's Fiction Middle East

Wanting Mor /hc

by (author) Rukhsana Khan

Groundwood Books Ltd
Initial publish date
May 2009
Middle East, Stepfamilies, Girls & Women
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    May 2009
    List Price

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Where to buy it

Out of print

This edition is not currently available in bookstores. Check your local library or search for used copies at Abebooks.

Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels

  • Age: 10 to 14
  • Grade: 5 to 9
  • Reading age: 10 to 14


Jameela lives with her mother and father in Afghanistan. Despite the fact that there is no school in their poor, war-torn village, and Jameela lives with a birth defect that has left her with a cleft lip, she feels relatively secure, sustained by her faith and the strength of her beloved mother, Mor.

But when Mor suddenly dies, Jameela's father impulsively decides to seek a new life in Kabul. He remarries, a situation that turns Jameela into a virtual slave to her demanding stepmother. When the stepmother discovers that Jameela is trying to learn to read, she urges her father to simply abandon the child in Kabul's busy marketplace. Jameela ends up in an orphanage.

Throughout it all, it is the memory of Mor that anchors her and in the end gives Jameela the strength to face her father and stepmother when fate brings them into her life again.

About the author

Rukhsana Khan was born in Lahore, Pakistan and immigrated to Canada, with her family, at the age of three. She grew up in the small town of Dundas, Ontario. Rukhsana once asked her mother what her name meant. Her mother said it was the name of a queen and it meant ‘girl with rosy cheeks’. When Rukhsana grew up she wanted to change her name to something else but her family urged her not to. They said it suited her well. To many people her name sounds like "Roxanne". Roxanne was the legendary queen of Alexander the Great, who is also a well known historical figure in Asian countries, so it could very well be the same name. Rukhsana began by writing for community magazines and went on to write songs and stories for the Adam's World children's videos. She currently has seven books published and others under contract. Napoleon has published Muslim Child, the rights to which have also been sold in the United States to Albert Whitman and Co. Her next book for Napoleon, Many Windows, will be published in 2008. Rukhsana is a member of SCBWI, The Writers Union of Canada, CANSCAIP, Storytellers of Canada, and the Storytelling School of Toronto. She tells tales of India, Persia and the Middle East, as well as her own stories. She lives in Toronto with her husband and family. She has four children: three girls and a boy.

Rukhsana Khan's profile page


  • Short-listed, Muslim Writers Awards Childrens Book
  • Commended, Capitol Choices Noteworthy Titles for Children and Teens
  • Commended, USBBY Outstanding International Books
  • Commended, IRA Notable Books for a Global Society
  • Winner, Middle East Book Award
  • Commended, SSLI Honor Book
  • Long-listed, CYBIL Awards

Editorial Reviews

A searing opening chapter...will draw readers into [Jameela's] story...[Readers] will certainly sympathize with her and rejoice in the ultimate outcome.

Horn Book

...[T]he storyteller's descriptive language is lovely... Her characters are realistic...Young readers' eyes will be opened to life in another culture. Teens will enjoy this book, especially if they liked Three Cups of Tea...

VOYA (Voice of Youth Advocates)

...Khan's account of [Jameela's] life...makes for good reading. As narrator, Jameela looks out in the world of Islamic Afghanistan from behind her chador, and it is her perspective...of that world that gives this book both its immediacy and its singularity.

Globe and Mail

...The unique hero sees open roads, where others might only squint at dead ends.

Children's Book News

Librarian Reviews

Wanting Mor

Jameela is trying to learn to read. When her stepmom finds out, she urges her father to abandon her. Jameela ends up in an orphanage, where she gets an education and is given an operation to fix her cleft lip, courtesy of the same army that is responsible for the deaths of many of her family members. This book is based on a true story.

Source: The Canadian Children’s Book Centre. Best Books for Kids & Teens. 2010.

Other titles by Rukhsana Khan