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Leyla: The Black Tulip (Girls of Many Lands)

3.93  ·  Rating Details  ·  706 Ratings  ·  44 Reviews
After her artist father goes off to war, 12-year-old Leyla must help her family earn enough money to survive. She makes a deal with marriage brokers-- but discovers too late that she's sold herself into slavery instead. Her journey as a slave takes her to faraway Istanbul, into the harem of the sultan. There she finds her Kismet, or destiny.
Hardcover, 196 pages
Published September 1st 2003 by American Girl Publishing Inc
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(showing 1-30 of 1,171)
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Really great book for young girls about a young girl sold into slavery from her small town and taken to a harem in Istanbul. Combines history, culture and stays very age appropriate!
Fatema Bodalbhai
Oct 26, 2011 Fatema Bodalbhai rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really liked this book because I could easily imagine how the main character must be feeling and also for me this book was easy to read because the language it used were words that I use everyday and the culture of the book is something that I'm proud to say that I am apart of and this book really did a good job showing both the negatives and the positives and not just leaning to one side.
Kennedy Petties
Mar 23, 2013 Kennedy Petties rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Although not finishing the book, Leyla: The Black Tulip is an astonishing story of how a girl leaves her home to save her family. Her father was sent off as a war painter and has never returned. Her family is struggling to hold themselves up. Men come to town looking for girls with skills and talent and she is on the list. She takes the offer to help her family and brings along some over her self-cultivated tulips. She must go to Istanbul. She works with the Mistress of Flowers in the harem. She ...more
Jun 05, 2008 Linda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Part of the Girls from Many Lands series distributed by American Girl magazine. Leyla is about a Turkish girl growing up during the Ottoman Empire. Her family falls upon hard times after her father disappears during the war. Leyla, thinking she is selling herself to be married, unwittingly sells herself into slavery in order to bring her family money. She finds herself as part of a harem where her love of gardening and painting become both her only solace and her salvation. This is a melancholy ...more
Jun 27, 2014 Ari rated it really liked it
The 'Girls of Many Lands' series made such an impact on my imagination and deepened my love of history/thirst for knowledge. The story of Leyla began my obsession with Turkey. If I remember correctly she is technically Georgian because 11 or 12 year old me was extremely confused as to how Georgia the state became a part of the Ottoman Empire. But Google set me straight. Looking back this book does a remarkable job of handling the dicey aspects of the this time in the Ottoman empire (for example ...more
October 2009 review:

Laleeta has a special touch for growing flowers, especially tulips. When her father is supposedly killed in a war, Laleeta and her brother are determined to take care of their mother and siblings. But when Laleeta ends up on a slave ship bound for the faraway palace of Topkapi, she is starting on the beginning of an exciting adventure.
Destiny Bennett
Dec 08, 2014 Destiny Bennett rated it it was amazing
The title of the book was the black tulip. The author name is Alev Lytle Croutier. I really liked the book. The main characters in this book were Leyla, Belkis her best friend. The conflict was that leyla father left for war and never returned home and her mom doesn't have a lot of money but to get money leyla has to go to Istanbul to work. I wouldnt recommend this book because I think no one likes the books that I read.
Nov 25, 2013 Morgan rated it really liked it
A young girl started from working in her garden to being sold as a slave to working in the gardens of the Padasha. I think that this was a very good book and I would recommend it to many people to my friends. This book was hard to put down, it was very descriptive and interesting. The book didn't only focus in on leyla but it also told about the sultan, and background info on the palace line in one part that i thought was interesting. A character that I liked was her friend Belkis who lived in ...more
Danyelle Shelton
Jan 18, 2015 Danyelle Shelton rated it it was amazing
I loved this book... You could imagine and capture everything the character was. Had so much scenery and heartfelt words... Loved it!
Madeline Henricksen
Jul 18, 2012 Madeline Henricksen rated it it was amazing
"Leyla The Black Tulip" features a girl from Turkey named Leyla. She makes a deal with soldiers to go with them to Istanbul to find her a husband. Leyla expects the deal to be true, but she realizes she has been tricked! Leyla ends up being a pupil for the Mistress of the Flowers in Istanbul. Padishah, her master, offers a reward for the first person to breed a black tulip and Leyla wants to win that reward.

I really liked this book because it helped me learn about a new culture. I recommend this
Jun 19, 2015 Julie rated it liked it
Great historical fiction novel about a fascinating empire, from an adolescent's point of view.
Sep 18, 2010 Angie rated it really liked it
This book is a great way to present the history and culture of Turkey to children. Leyla is a 12 year old girl in 1720 who volunteers to marry a rich husband so that her struggling family can have money. Instead, she is sold as a slave to a representative of the Padishah, the emperor of Turkey. She becomes part of his harem and cares for the tulips in the private gardens.

This book was part of the American Girl Series, "Girls of Many Lands." I am impressed with its educational value as well as i
Apr 17, 2012 Gloriana rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: upper elementary through high school
Before Reading:
I've read a couple of other books in the American Girls Girls of Many Lands series, and I loved them! Excited to start this one, set in Turkey :)

After Reading:
I really enjoyed it! Definitely one to keep :) I think I'm going to buy the whole series, because it's really a quality series, they're all about different countries, and they're written by people from those countries, so they're very authentic. Definitely recommend it. :)
Croutier tackled a very complex subject for children's book. But I suppose that the huge gaps for the adult reader would not be evident to the younger reader. It provides background on the female slave trade and life within a harem in the most innocent of ways. However, I do wonder if little girls should leave the book thinking that 'kismet' should determine the course of one's life and that a young girl could be happy enslaved.
Apr 01, 2012 Yapha rated it really liked it
Leyla offers to go with the men from Istanbul to get enough gold so that her family may survive. What she doesn't know is that she is to become a slave, not the wife of a rich man. Taking place during the height of the Ottoman Empire, we are given an insider's look at the world inside the Pasha's harem. A great story about a string girl who creates her own destiny. Full of interesting facts about tulips as well.
Mar 24, 2012 Toryia rated it it was amazing
I thought that this book was a very good read. I was very impressed by the amount of detail, imagery, and information that American Girl put into this book. This book was one of my favorites of this series because I have gotten the most imagery out of it, and I like the exotic setting they have. I would suggest this book to people who like to learn history in a story of emotion and action.
Mar 24, 2014 Meghan rated it really liked it
Shelves: american-girl
I've never really been interested in the history of harems and such but the story itself was good.
Oct 26, 2011 Sue rated it really liked it
This book is part of the American Girl Doll book series- Girls of Many Lands. I was surprised with how much I enjoyed reading this book! The plot was great & definitely kid friendly, but didn't sacrifice cultural context in the process! There was some poetic license taken when it comes to Women's rights to "modernize" but all-in-all great!
Leyla, 12, accepts the soldiers’ offer of gold for her family to go with them to Turkey—she thinks, to be married to a Turk, but in actuality, she becomes a slave who is purchased by the Sultan’s harem. There she pursues her talents of gardening and painting and gains favor (although not freedom). Pretty good.
Barbara Lovejoy
May 30, 2011 Barbara Lovejoy rated it really liked it
This book is one of those serendipitous experiences. I was at the library to pick up some other books and happened to see this one. It looked intriguing so checked it out, too. What a wonderful story! I am now anxious to read some of the other books in the Girls of Many Lands series.
Jan 24, 2010 Meadow rated it really liked it
Shelves: american-girl
Leyla is a wonderful gardener, when discovered, she is put in charge of the gardens of the palace. But when she plants the bulb of a black tulip from her home. Will they accept her backround?

I love the namey Leyla, and her world, and it's description on culture are great too.
Jan 30, 2009 Leilani rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
She is a verry poor family, and wants to help her mom so she goes to the lady like place where you learn and show tallents, you get money for it so she left behind her family, and learn how to be a lady knowing she may not see her family again!
Sep 13, 2008 Elizabeth rated it really liked it
This book is wonderful not only to teach about different times, but different people and places. This book talks a little about Muslim culture, and talks about the old tradition of keeping harems.
Jun 25, 2008 Shadi added it
This is a young adult novel--I absolutely loved it. It is a lovely tale of a young girl coming to terms and accepting her destiny. I read it in an hour (a bit of an exaggeration).
Found it more interesting than the others, but it felt a bit rushed and 'perfect' towards the end. I kept expecting Leyla to wake up and discover that the last few pages had been a dream.
Sep 23, 2012 Pam rated it it was amazing
Delightful read. Leyla is a wonderful character. A great book to begin an understanding of another culture. Thanks to my friend, Barbara, for recommending it.
Sep 04, 2008 Josee rated it liked it
I really liked this book but there was some boring parts of this book, and weird parts, also Turkish language. Others ways I recommed this book to read.
Dec 05, 2008 Emily rated it liked it
Recommended to Emily by: Halee
It was a really good book for American Girl. I would suggest it to younger readers though. I read it for my book report but it was still good.
Meredith Henning
Nov 17, 2009 Meredith Henning rated it really liked it
Violet's 2009-2010 reading page:
Jolene Perry
Oct 30, 2011 Jolene Perry rated it really liked it
Shelves: own
My eight year old daughter BEGGED me to read this, and it was pretty fun :D
A great "girl" book.

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Alev Croutier was born in Turkey. She has written and directed award-winning independent films and was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship (the first ever for a screenplay) for her work on Tell Me a Riddle. She is the author of the internationally acclaimed bestseller Harem: The World Behind the Veil. She divides her time between San Francisco and Paris.
More about Alev Lytle Croutier...

Other Books in the Series

Girls of Many Lands (8 books)
  • Isabel: Taking Wing (Girls of Many Lands, England)
  • Cecile: Gates of Gold (Girls of Many Lands, France)
  • Saba: Under the Hyena's Foot (Girls of Many Lands, Ethiopia)
  • Spring Pearl: The Last Flower (Girls of Many Lands, China)
  • Minuk: Ashes in the Pathway
  • Kathleen: The Celtic Knot
  • Neela: Victory Song

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