Malika is an almost-12-year-old girl from the Libyan city of Ghadames. Her merchant father leads caravan expeditions through the desert, and she often wishes she could go with him like her brother, Jasim. Since she is nearly of marriagable age, though, her mother feels that she needs to work on being content with a more secluded life, like all Muslim women.
She will not go on to receive any higher education, but will instead learn to run a household, and this makes her jealous of her brother. One night, however, a stranger comes into Malika’s life. When both of her father’s wives find an injured man outside their home, they decide to rescue and hide him so they can tend to his wounds. Before the man is smuggled away, he teaches Malika her alphabet. Will her mother be angered by this? Or will she be happy that Malika was given an extra opportunity to learn? If YOU want to learn more about 19th century Muslim culture (and Malika), this Mildred L Batchelder Award Book is for you!