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Laila and the Sands of Time

4.50  ·  Rating details ·  16 ratings  ·  9 reviews
Thirteen-year-old Laila, still grieving over her father’s death, goes on their planned pilgrimage with her aunt and uncle. When she is transported back in time to 7th century Arabia, she faces the dangers of the desert, takes on a disguise and saves a baby’s life.
But will she ever return to her own time?
Paperback, Middle grade , 140 pages
Published July 2019 by Clear Fork Publishing/Spork
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Average rating 4.50  · 
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 ·  16 ratings  ·  9 reviews

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Memarie Christoforo
Jul 01, 2020 rated it really liked it
This book is a multicultural, time-travel adventure story set in present-day Chicago and seventh-century Arabia, the time when the Prophet Mohammed lived. Thirteen-year-old Laila is struggling with complicated and emotional events in her family. She feels grief, anger, resentment, fear, even self-hatred. She teeters back and forth between helplessness and courage. As a young Muslim child she dreamed of going on a pilgrimage to Mecca with her beloved Dad. This book will help children process thes ...more
Aug 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: featured-reviews
I am very excited to introduce Laila and the Sands of Time, a debut middle-grade chapter book from Shirin Shamsi. This is a beautifully written middle-grade chapter book which can be used to teach many lessons about Arabian history during the 7th century; cultural customs; Muslim religious history and practices; coming to terms with one’s religious faith; dealing with grief and loss; finding confidence and courage as a teen, and even the science of DNA. On top of this, it is a page-turning, time ...more
Jan 15, 2021 rated it it was ok
This 127 page book has a lot of potential, but ultimately didn’t win me over. It is one of those that needs a good editor to encourage the author to flesh out the characters, take advantage of a potentially cathartic resolution, and fill the gaping holes in the story. Meant for ages 8-12 the tiny font, and tight spacing, make the book really dense and intimidating to look at and read. The book, as written, should be well over 200 pages, if spaced appropriately for the target audience. Once you a ...more
Sep 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A Magic Carpet of a Book.

This story masterfully weaves together the adventure of a contemporary thirteen-year-old girl from Chicago with the wisdom of the Sufic tradition of her ancestors.

After Laila loses her father, whose voice in the book is that of Sufism, the mystical practice of Islam, she goes with her aunt and uncle to Mecca on the pilgrimage she was supposed to go on with her father.

While visiting the Kaaba, the holy site most associated with the beginnings of Islam, Laila slips through
Jun 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This lyrical and well-plotted novel deftly moves between modern-day Chicago and 7th century Arabia. The author's descriptions of the Arabian desert are evocative and her portrayal of 13-year-old Laila is sensitive and nuanced. I cared about Laila and was rooting for her throughout the story. This would be an excellent book for middle-grade readers who either don't see themselves in many books or are interested in/open to learning about other faiths and cultures. Not to mention those who enjoy ti ...more
Victoria Piehowski
Jul 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is a gentle and engaging tale of a teen coping with loss while trying to understand her own faith tradition. A story of time travel, this narrative literally places Laila within her own history, making the driving conflict of the story feel both widely resonant and deeply personal at the same time. Laila's adventures work as potent symbolism for our own struggles to grasp and accept the unknown in the face of personal tragedy. Well worth the time, this historical tale should appeal to a bro ...more
Jul 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mg
This beautifully written middle-grade novel centers on 13-year-old Laila, who goes on a pilgrimage with her aunt and uncle after losing her father and gets transported back to seventh-century Arabia. I also lost my dad prematurely, so I related to Laila's grief (even though I was several years older than she was) and found the setting to be thoroughly absorbing. It's an engrossing exploration of loss, faith, and forgiveness. ...more
Jun 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Read this for an inter-religious book group and it was a great, deeper exposure to the Muslim faith through a fictional young adult lens. I highly recommend it for middle/high schoolers and all who want a lighter, short read. Would be great for this to be included in more middle school curricula!
Dena Davis
Dec 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Beautifully written, suspenseful, and heartfelt! This book gave me tears and goosebumps, and I learned more about Islam along the way. Wonderful for middle-grade children and adults alike.
Ellen Leventhal
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