Loujain Dreams of Sunflowers, by Lina AlHathloul and Uma Mishra-Newbery, illustrated by Rebecca Green

The book Loujain Dreams of Sunflowers laying flat, lopsided, on a golden mesh.

I have been following Loujain’s fight for Women’s Rights in Saudi Arabia for a few years now and was very excited when I heard that a book inspired by her fight and co-authored by her sister would soon be released. And not just any book, a gorgeously illustrated picture book, the most perfect medium to reach children and educate them on the importance of fighting for our dreams and for what’s right. A leading figure in the campaign for women’s right to drive and live free of male guardianship, Loujain spent more than two years in prison. Now released, she is still constrained by the terms of her sentence, forbidden from living the country or engaging in activism.

The book was released on March 1, 2022, just in time for Women’s Rights Month.

It tells the story of little Loujain, who dreams of flying just like her baba. More precisely, she’d love to see the carpet of a million sunflowers he talks so much about, a field of sunflowers that one can only see when flying over it. Unfortunately, girls are not allowed to fly. But will Loujain let that stop her?

This uplifting story is simply and touchingly told. I loved how in a few pages it conveys the strength of Loujain’s aspirations and determination, the hostility and scoffs she faces, but also the unwavering support of her loved ones. Loujain’s fight is rooted in a simple dream, a dream there is no legitimate reason to deny her, and her parents rapidly realise that. Importantly, Loujain’s bravery inspires other girls to follow suit and spread their own wings.

Illustration from Loujain Dreams of Sunflowers : loujain on a tree, with her wings on, eyes level with her baba, they look fondly at each other.

Rebecca’s Green illustrations complement the story perfectly : the brush is bold yet delicate, faces are round and expressive. I love how present nature is : through abstract landscapes, oneiric plants, bright flowers and the cutest birds. The colours are vivid and sweet, never garish. It’s welcoming, comforting despite the challenges Loujain faces : a warm invitation to stand up, and fly towards one’s dreams.

In short, a picture book just how I like them: a blend of poetic storytelling and strong message.

Loujain and two girls behind her, wings on, perched on tree branches and looking  at the horizon.

Having loved the book, I am thrilled to have the opportunity to meet and discuss with Lina AlHathloul at the Red Wheelbarrow Bookstore in Paris, on Sunday, March 20. And you can meet her too! If you want to join the conversation on-site, just register here! After the discussion, Lina will be available to sign copies of her books. This signing part is open, no registration needed. Hope to see you there!

Loujain Dreams of Sunflowers
Published by mineditionUS
Mar 01, 2022 | 40 Pages 
ISBN 9781662650642

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