Books DiverseKidLit International Middle Eastern Literature Picture Books Reading Themes

[DiverseKidLit] A Father-and-Son Story in the Waters of the Arabian Gulf in “The Pearl Diver”

Myra here.

Our theme for this #DiverseKidLit is Global Books. Please share your favorite diverse books that take place in countries other than your own. (As always, the theme is only a suggestion. Diverse posts on alternate topics are always welcome.)

What Is #DiverseKidLit?

Diverse Children’s Books is a book-sharing meme designed to promote the reading and writing of children’s books that feature diverse characters. This community embraces all kinds of diversity including (and certainly not limited to) diverse, inclusive, multicultural, and global books for children of all backgrounds.

We encourage everyone who shares to support this blogging community by visiting and leaving comments for at least three others. Please also consider following the hosts on at least one of their social media outlets. Spread the word using #diversekidlit and/or adding our button to your site and your diverse posts.


We hope this community serves as a resource for parents, teachers, librarians, publishers, and authors! Our next linkup will be Saturday, June 3rd. We will only be hosting one linkup per month (on the first Saturday) for June, July, and August.

Upcoming Theme

Our theme for the current month is global books. Themes are a suggestion only; all diverse book posts are welcome. If you’re interested, you can start planning now …

  • Our theme for June (3rd) will be books featuring multiethnic families and/or biracial main characters. Sometimes a focus on diversity can feel like forcing people into boxes. Let’s celebrate the diversity that can be found within a single person or household!
  • Our theme for July (1st) will be series. Series books are great for hooking readers, because there’s another book after you finish the first one! Share your favorite book series featuring diverse characters?

Most Clicked Post from Last Time

The most-clicked post from the previous #diversekidlit was Books for Teaching about Russia from Our Unschooling Journey through Life. This post includes links to 9 different books about Russia as well as an overview of some learning games to play with kids.

I learned about this book from the compilation curated by the National Library Board Singapore entitled Stories from Asia: The Asian Children’s Literature Collection. I made sure I hunted down some of the titles that are unknown to me, and The Pearl Diver is one of the treasures I found from this wondrous collection.

The Pearl Diver

Story by: Julia Johnson Illustrations by: Patricia Al Fakhri
Published by: Medina Publishing, 2015
ISBN: 1900988585 (ISBN13: 9781900988582)Bought a copy of the book. Book photos taken by me. 

I have to confess that there is something about sea-based stories that do not automatically appeal to me – it could be the different terminologies that the reader has to be familiar with (a schooner, starboard, etc), or it could simply be that I just tune off by default. This is the reason why I could not finish Moby Dick for the life of me. This story, though, is different, primarily because of the gorgeous art of Patricia Al Fakhri.

Essentially, it is a father-and-son story. A six year old boy named Saeed accompanies his father, Abdullah, during the pearling season. He was included as part of the crew and given the responsibility of catching fish and making coffee. In return, his father promised to teach him how to dive.

More than anything, I find the story to be a glimpse into the Arabian culture and their practices while at sea, their continued devotion to prayer, and the willingness to impart knowledge to a son who is expected to be the family’s “little man.”

I would classify this as more of an illustrated novelette, because it is text-heavy – definitely not your usual picturebook (PB), although the packaging is similar to that of a PB. Both author and illustrator have lived in Dubai for over 20 years with their family. Julia Johnson’s stories have frequently focused on the history and culture of the Arabian Peninsula while Patricia Al Fakhri, the artist, is said to be a well known artist and teacher in Dubai. Definitely a book that you should add to your classroom library, especially if you have young readers who are very much into deep sea diving or sea adventures.

#DiverseKidLit is Hosted by:

Katie @ The Logonauts
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Becky @ Franticmommmy
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Carolina @ La Clase de Sra. DuFault
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Gauri @ Kitaab World
an online bookstore for South Asian children’s books, toys and games
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Gayle Swift, Author of ABC, Adoption & Me
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Jane @ Rain City Librarian
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Marjorie @ Mirrors Windows Doors
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Mia @ Pragmatic Mom
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Myra @ Gathering Books
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Shoumi Sen, Author of Toddler Diaries
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Want to be notified when the next #diversekidlit linkup goes live? Click here to join the mailing list. Interested in joining as a host or an occasional co-host? Contact katie at

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Myra is a Teacher Educator and a registered clinical psychologist based in Singapore. She has edited five books on rediscovering children’s literature in Asia (with a focus on the Philippines, Malaysia, India, China, Japan) as part of the proceedings for the Asian Festival of Children’s Content where she serves as the Chair of the Programme Committee for the Asian Children’s Writers and Illustrators Conference. While she is an academic by day, she is a closet poet and a book hunter at heart. When she is not reading or writing about books or planning her next reads or meeting up with her book club friends, she is smashing that shuttlecock to smithereens because Badminton Is Life.

3 comments on “[DiverseKidLit] A Father-and-Son Story in the Waters of the Arabian Gulf in “The Pearl Diver”

  1. That artwork! We have a section in our library dedicated to these kinds of books – more complex picture books that are perfect for older readers. They can be a fantastic resource for school-aged children, so we try to make sure they’re easy to find, and not shelved with the “little kid” books. 😉


  2. I’m with you on Moby Dick. But, I do like this story because I learned something new. It reminds me of earlier books that are heavy on words. It sounds like it is for a mature group of elementary students. The artwork is lovely.


  3. I agree with you and Jane – it’s great to have picture books for older readers – or younger children who are confident readers – and this one looks and sounds very special.


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