#1191 – Daniel and Ismail by Juan Pablo Iglesias & Alex Peris

Daniel and Ismail
Written by Juan Pablo Iglesias
Illustrated by Alex Peris
Translated from Spanish to English by Ilan Stavans
Translated into Hebrew by Eliezer Nowodworski, Frieda Press-Danieli, & Razia Yaffe
Translated into Arabic by Randa Sayegh
Yonder 8/13/2019
40 pages   Ages 3—6

Genre:  Children’s Picture Book, Fiction
Themes:  Multilingual, Multicultural, Differences


Synopsis:  Daniel and Ismail grow up in separate communities that interact rarely but with friction. They share a birthday, though, and one year they get similar presents:  a soccer ball and a traditional scarf:  for Daniel a tallit, a Jewish prayer shawl, and for Ismail a keffiyeh, a scarf common to his Palestinian community.  Meeting by chance on the soccer field, they play and accidentally swap gifts. When they get home, their parents are furious, reminding the boys of the terrible things people say about the other’s community. Ultimately, however, the boys’ curiosity about each other and eagerness to get back to playing help them to overcome their differences. (from publisher)

Opening Lines:*

Daniel and Ismail live in the same city but don’t know it.

דניאל ואיסמעיל גרים באותה עיר אך אינם יודעים זאת.

يعيش دانيال وإسماعيل في نفس المدينة لكنهم لا يعرفون ذلك.

Why I like this book:

Two very similar young boys, one Jewish, the other Palestinian, have the same birthday and get the same gifts:  a soccer ball and a traditional scarf. By coincidence, the two meet at the park and begin kicking their soccer balls around. They challenge each other to different types of kicks and then start a game, using their scarfs to mark off the goals.

Losing time, it is dark when they grab their gifts and head home. On their way, people give them looks.  At home, their parents are furious:

“Where did you get that?”
“Do you know what it means?”
“Do you know who uses those?”

Terrified by what they hear, from the adults in their lives and the news, the boys experience similar nightmares:  wars, bombings, and hatred. The next day they exchange scarfs and talk about what their parents had said. And since they are on the soccer field, with their soccer balls, the boys begin playing. Soon area kids of various colors, religions, and cultures join in the game. (Even a girl!) No one keeps score. They play for fun not to win. Looking at the soccer game spread, all you see is unadulterated fun!

People are more similar than most of us allow our eyes to notice. For some reason, we lean towards our differences, which is why the boys were given “the look” when people saw them with the wrong traditional scarf around their shoulders. You know the look. The one that says whatever you are doing, saying, wearing is wrong/bad/horrible. I hate that look.

Originally released in 2016 (Iguales a 1 by Ediciones SM Chile), the text was in Spanish. Five translators worked to write the text in English, Hebrew, and Arabic making Daniel and Ismail a trilingual picture book. All three languages are on each page. Kids may be curious as to how the English sentence sounds in Hebrew or Arabic. The Google translator used for the review also lets you hear the translation.

Speaking of different, the book Daniel and Ismail is different. Open most any book cover and read left to right. Open this book cover and the story is over. Instead, open the “back cover” and read from right to left. Kids will love this because it is different—kids appreciate differences. They also ignore differences when the differences mean nothing. For example, playing soccer it matters none what color, religion, culture, or sex you happen to be as long as you can kick that ball.

Daniel and Ismail will help kids and parents understand when differences do not matter but if we let them, horrible things can happen. The key is communication and play (or a similar interests). Schools would do well to have Daniel and Ismail in their library and in classrooms. The publisher states the book is for age three to six. Older kids and adults can also benefit from reading and discussing Daniel and Ismail.

Favorite Line:

Other kids join in, and soon they’re all playing a big match where the score doesn’t matter to anyone.

Illustration examples can be seen by book cover in “Look Inside.”

*Translated by Google Translator:  https://translate.google.com/

Daniel and Ismail. Copyright © 2016 by Juan Pablo Iglesias. Illustrations copyright © 2016 by Alex Peris. English translations copyright © 2019 by Ilan Stavans; Hebrew translations copyright © 2019 by Eliezer Nowodworski, Frieda Press-Danieli, and Razia Yaffe; and Arabic translations copyright © 2019 by Randa Sayegh. Published by Yonder/Restless Books, Brooklyn, NY.

Available at Amazon

Copyright © 2019 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews. All Rights Reserved


2 thoughts on “#1191 – Daniel and Ismail by Juan Pablo Iglesias & Alex Peris

    • When I first saw this book all the media on the front and back covers threw me. But once I figured out how to read it, (brain is trying to stay on vacation), I absolutely loved it. We need the new generation in office with new visions, new ideas, and new ways of talking and compromising. I wanted to send this to congress, but figured I would just be wasting a stamp.


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