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Children's Fiction Middle East

Yara's Spring

by (author) Jamal Saeed & Sharon E. McKay

Annick Press
Initial publish date
Oct 2020
Middle East, Violence, Multigenerational, Emigration & Immigration
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Oct 2020
    List Price
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Oct 2020
    List Price

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Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels

  • Age: 10 to 14
  • Grade: 6 to 9
  • Reading age: 10 to 14


Coming of age against all odds in the midst of the Arab Spring.

Growing up in Aleppo, Yara’s childhood has long been shadowed by the coming revolution. But when the Arab Spring finally arrives at Yara’s doorstep, it is worse than even her Nana imagined: sudden, violent, and deadly. When rescuers dig Yara out from under the rubble that was once her family’s home, she emerges to a changed world. Her parents and Nana are gone, and her brother, Saad, can’t speak—struck silent by everything he’s seen. Now, with her friend Shireen and Shireen’s charismatic brother, Ali, Yara must try to find a way to safety. With danger around every corner, Yara is pushed to her limits as she discovers how far she’ll go for her loved ones—and for a chance for freedom.

Crafted through the focused lens of Jamal Saeed’s own experiences in Syria and brought to life with acclaimed author Sharon E. McKay, Yara’s Spring is a story of coming of age against all odds and the many kinds of love that bloom even in the face of war. Black-and-white interior drawings by award-winning illustrator Nahid Kazemi lend vivid detail to the novel.

*A Junior Library Guild Gold Standard Selection

About the authors

Jamal Saeed spent twelve years as a prisoner of consciousness in Syria before being invited to Canada in 2016. He continues to raise awareness about Syria’s ongoing civil war and humanitarian crisis through his work as an activist, editor, visual artist, and author. He lives in Kingston, Ontario.

Jamal Saeed's profile page

Sharon E. McKay is the award-winning author of many books based on real events, including War Brothers: The Graphic Novel and Thunder Over Kandahar. She was also named a Canadian War Artist and spent time in Afghanistan embedded with the Canadian troops. She lives in Prince Edward Island.

Sharon E. McKay's profile page


  • Nominated, Indiana Young Hoosier Book Awards
  • Nominated, Red Cedar Book Award
  • Nominated, Red Maple Award, OLA
  • Short-listed, Next Generation INDIE Book Award
  • Joint winner, Best Bets List, Top Ten, Ontario Library Association
  • Joint winner, Best Books for Kids & Teens, *starred selection, Canadian Children’s Book Centre
  • Joint winner, Cooperative Children's Book Center Choices 2021
  • Joint winner, Kirkus Best Books List

Editorial Reviews


CM Reviews, 06/05/20

“The narrative is fast-paced and descriptive, and the dialogue so charged with the characters’ emotions that readers will be immediately drawn into Yara’s plight . . . A gripping addition to literature about current refugee experiences.”

Booklist, 10/01/20

“Add this to your must read list.”

Library Matters, 09/07/20

“Extremely dramatic and high energy . . . Very well written.”

Reformed Librarians Together, 09/21

“Inspired by Saeed’s own experiences . . . Readers are taken inside Syria—and through the emotions of love, loss, and steadfastness.”

Kirkus Reviews, *starred review, 07/28/20

“Heartbreaking and hopeful.”

Canadian Children’s Book News, *starred review, Fall/20

“Well written and a must-read.”

Libris Notes, 02/03/21

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