Reviews and Awards

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2013 Middle East Studies Association Best Picture Book

2013 Arab American Book Award

Bank Street College of Education Best Children's Books of 2013 (Nine to Twelve)

2013 Notable Social Studies Trade Books (National Council for the Social Studies and Children's Book Council)

2013 Notable Books for a Global Society (International Reading Association)

2013 Best Books for Young Children by the Children's Africana Book Awards Committee 

2013 NCTE Orbis Pictus Nonfiction Award Recommended List

2013 Cooperative Children's Book Center Choices (CCBC - University of Wisconsin) 


Washington Parent 
September 2013

"This inspiring, beautifully written true story reminds us of the importance of libraries as repositories of ideas and stories and as hubs of community... Susan Roth's collages provide intriguing texture and color to the historical tale she co-wrote with Maryland author Karen Leggett Abouraya. Additional important insight is provided through a double-page photo spread of the uprising and library and an author's note that mentions Roth's international "Let's Hold Hands" art project that encourages children to create and share their own self-portrait collaged paper dolls."   Mary Quattlebaum

KidsPost - The Washington Post

KidsPost review in Washington Post


Kirkus Reviews 

The Kirkus Star

"Freedom and libraries: an essential combination...A stunning visual recreation of a recent historical event."

Library Media Connection

"Highly Recommended"

"Detailed collages bring to life the story of people uniting to protect their beloved Alexandria library during the 2011 Egyptian protests. Told in first person, readers feel as if they too are present as the protestors head toward the library. The library director addresses the group as they approach and individuals join him to keep the library safe. Photographs from the actual event, as well as some information about the ancient and modern Alexandria libraries and the January revolution add more detail for an older audience. Because it is in picture book format and the text is clear and relatively simple, this book is suitable for use with younger audiences. Egypt’s election and President Mubarak’s life sentence make the topic very relevant to today’s students".

Laura D’Amato, Library Media Specialist, Berea, Ohio

Publishers Weekly

"Readers will find much to celebrate in this heartening story. In her signature collages, which feature bold colors and an array of textures, Roth incorporates materials and motifs that have particular significance to her setting and subject matter."

Reading Rockets

"Hands Around the Library provides multiple entry points for looking at a timely topic, a rich cultural heritage, and much more. It's also a fascinating way to celebrate libraries and their treasures long beyond September."

Maria Salvadore


"Straight from recent headlines, this stirring picture book tells of young people’s role in leading the Egyptian uprising. Both the direct free-verse lines and pictures reveal the exciting story of how crowds of kids join hands with the library director to protect the beautiful modern building and its more than one million books and up-to-date technology.  … A great title for cross curricular sharing."

Hazel Rochman

"Roth and Abouraya invest this story with emotion and suspense by adopting the point of view of a fictional librarian at first caught up in the excitement of the march, then worried about the library, then proud of her countrymen for this act of love and peace.”  Meet the librarian who  was the model for the narrator in the story in her blog … Roth’s collage art is especially appealing to young people … constructed from brightly colored paper in a variety of textures: crinkled, fuzzy, fibrous, corrugated, and even iridescent … These pages use collage representations of quilt squares as a border, suggesting that the immense crowds that marched in Egypt were made of a kaleidoscope of unique individuals.”

Paula Willey, Baltimore County Public Library, Towson, MD


"I had no idea that the Arab spring uprising in Egypt included an incident at which people acted to protect the Bibliotheca Alexandrina. It is easy for us to forget that freedom of information is not a value everywhere, and that we are part of a profession that serves a valued human need."

Kelli, a librarian in Columbus, Ohio

"A glorious picture book about freedom, libraries and community" Uma Krishnaswami

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"A new nonfiction picture book by Dial Books would make an excellent read aloud to stimulate discussions with children about the importance of books and libraries to our society."

"This is an excellent resource to help young children understand a big event in a more personal way, and could spark discussions on the role of citizen protests in bringing about change. Certainly the forces that ignited these demonstrations in 2011 continue to fill the news today."

Paula McMillen, Children's Literature