Thunderbird Book Launch and Teacher Workshop

04 Jun 2022


Announced by the University of Pittsburgh

Thunderbird Book Launch and Teacher Workshop

Speakers: Sonia Nimr, Marcia Lynx Qualey, Diana Abu-Jaber
Description: The Thunderbird trilogy is a fast-paced time-traveling YA fantasy adventure centered on a young orphaned Palestinian girl (Noor) who starts in the present and must go back in time to get four magical feathers and save the world. Aided by a djinn cat and girls who look identical to Noor and each have one of the bird’s powers, Noor must find the four feathers, save the world, and keep the wall between the worlds intact. Kirkus Reviews describes Book One of the trilogy as “intriguing, textured, and immersive” and “a richly descriptive novel [that] paints a moving portrait of a lost, lonely girl; a historic land with a painful past and present; and an enchanting magical world. The cliffhanger ending will leave readers eager for more.” Join us on June 4th at 10am CDT for an online launch celebrating the publication of Thunderbird (Book One), with a conversation between Thunderbird author and Sonia Nimr and translator Marcia Lynx Qualey, moderated by Diana Abu-Jaber. The conversation will be followed by a short workshop for educators led by Tara Kajtaniak, designer of an online open-source Language Arts curriculum based on the book for teachers in grades 6-8 as part of the Center for Middle Eastern Studies’ outreach program. Participants in the event will receive a complimentary copy of the book.

SONIA NIMR is an award-winning Palestinian writer, storyteller, translator, and oral historian who has published more than two dozen books for children and young adults. She is an assistant professor of Philosophy and Cultural Studies at Birzeit University.

LYNX QUALEY is an award-winning translator and the founding editor of ArabLit and ArabLit Quarterly, and co-host of the BULAQ literary podcast. Her translation of Sonia Nimr’s Wondrous Journeys in Strange Lands won a 2021 Palestine Book Award.

DIANA ABU-JABER is the award-winning author of seven books of fiction and nonfiction, including Crescent and The Language of Baklava. Diana Abu-Jaber’s culinary memoir, Life Without A Recipe, has been described as “a book of love, death, and cake.” Ruth Reichl calls it “bold and luscious” and “indispensable to anyone trying to forge their own truer path.” Her young-adult novel, Silverworld, a fantasy with an Arab-American girl at its heart, was published last spring from Crown Books / Random House. Diana teaches writing and literature at Portland State University.

TARA KAJTANIAK is an educator, teacher-leader, and curriculum developer with a passion for global competency, dynamic humanities instruction, and equity in education. She has taught ELA and the social sciences for 17 years and is currently working for the Northern Humboldt Unified School District and Humboldt State University on the beautiful redwood coast of northern California. Tara is also the founder and coordinator of the Humboldt Youth Climate Action Summit and the former education coordinator of Asia Society's COAL + ICE climate change photography and art exhibition. She is currently a UT Austin/QFI Middle Eastern Studies Teacher Leadership Fellow.

Event Date: 
Saturday, June 4, 2022 - 10:00am to 11:00am
Sponsored By: 
The University of Texas at Austin’s Center for Middle Eastern StudiesThe Arab American National Museum, and the University of Michigan Center for Middle Eastern and North African Studies