Egyptian Lullaby by Zeena M. Pliska and Hatem Aly

Happy Wednesday! I'm thrilled to welcome Zeena M. Pliska and Hatem Aly to Watch. Connect. Read. to celebrate Egyptian Lullaby, a beautiful picture book! We discussed Cairo, picture books, Hatem's illustrations, and more. I wrote the words in purple, Hatem wrote the words in black, and Zeena wrote the words in orange. Thank you, Zeena and Hatem! 


Egyptian Lullaby
’s cover
depicts affection for loved ones and places that have held a special place in our hearts for generations.

Zeena M. Pliska's manuscript for Egyptian Lullaby is an example of how to describe a city in a playful manner. I love how Cairo's everyday life is made so approachable and enjoyable.

Picture books give us a glimpse of ourselves and the world through a limited number of pictures and words. They are magical in some way.


Egyptian Lullaby tells the story of a young girl whose family has immigrated and never returned to their homeland. Rather than the typical immigrant story of learning to assimilate and belong, this is the story of yearning for the homeland you’ve left. Her aunt visits from Cairo, Egypt, bringing the sights and sounds of the city in a song that soothes the young girl’s yearning for home and family.

Hatem Aly’s illustrations are exquisitely multi-layered and place the reader right in the middle of modern Cairo. Hatem has captured the visceral quality of the city giving readers the incredible experience of travelling to the city themselves. It is my hope that this story will normalize the Arab culture for those who are unfamiliar and honor the Arab culture for those who are familiar. Hatem’s illustrations do just that!

Picture books are windows that help children make sense of their world. As a kindergarten teacher and a picture book author, I recognize the importance of diverse characters and points of view. It is imperative that we expand children’s worlds so that they may see themselves as well as others vastly different than themselves so that they may understand that their expanding world is full of unlimited diversity.


Zeena M. Pliska is a kindergarten teacher by day and a children’s book author by night in Los Angeles, California. A life-long storyteller, she has facilitated stories as a theater director, visual artist, photographer, and journalist.


Hatem Aly is an Egyptian-born artist whose work has been featured on television and in multiple publications. He is the illustrator of The Proudest Blue, In My Mosque, and the Yasmin series. He lives with his wife and son in New Brunswick, Canada.


Look for Egyptian Lullaby on April 18, 2023. 

In this heartwarming bedtime story, a young child relishes a visit from her great-aunt. Each night, Auntie Fatma puts her to bed, singing a lullaby filled with rich imagery of her home in Egypt. As Auntie Fatma sings, we are given a glimpse of modern Cairo, from boats making their way down the Nile, to gentle calls to prayer from the mosques, to young children joyfully playing soccer in the streets.

Join Zeena M. Pliska and Hatem Aly on a vibrant journey to Cairo in this gorgeous, layered ode to the ancient city.


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