Jordan's Queen Rania Rejects Offers to Publish Book in Hebrew

Published: July 19th 2010
in News » World

Queen Rania of Jordan

“The Sandwich Swap,” the English title of a book written by Jordanian Queen Rania in collaboration with Kelly DiPucchio, has made The New York Times bestseller list - but it won’t be published in Hebrew.


According to Haaretz, Rania has refused multiple offers to publish a Hebrew version of the book, which has already been published in both English and Arabic (under the title “Salma and Lily").


While on a U.S. promotion tour, the queen described the book as the story of two girls who let their differing school lunches get in the way of their friendship, criticizing each other’s lunches based on preconceived ideas about the other’s cultural background.


Aside from their school lunches, the two main characters, Lily and Salma, have a lot in common; Lily, however, prefers peanut butter and jam, while Salma lunches on pita with hummus.


The two ultimately learn how to preserve their friendship, but not before a class-wide food fight, in which the students take sides.


At the end of the story, however, the children decide to have a party where they exchange their sandwiches, in a symbolic exchange of cultural acceptance.


The book was launched in the States in April, with a reading given by Rania at the United Nations, and quickly made its way to the New York Times’ bestseller list. Also on her U.S. promotional tour, the queen has had interviews with the likes of Oprah Winfrey and Barbara Walters.


Queen Rania was raised in a Palestinian household, but studied at a multicultural English-speaking school in Kuwait. She has said that the book was inspired by her own childhood, and the shock she felt the first time she encountered someone eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.


Since 2007, Queen Rania has been working with UNICEF on child welfare issues and as honorary chairwoman of the UN's effort to promote the education of girls, and according to her website, proceeds from book sales will go to an organization in Jordan that is in the process of renovating 500 schools there.


During a recent visit to the Zaha Cultural Centre (ZCC) in Amman, the queen distributed copies of her book to the children. She asked the children what they learned from the book after reading, and one boy said he learned not to “judge” people by their appearance, something the queen has apparently stressed and encouraged.


Also during this visit, Queen Rania toured the centre’s newest extension, and was briefed by ZCC Director Rania Sbeih on the activities and the facilities they provide.


The apparent hypocrisy of refusing to publish in Hebrew a book that emphasizes cultural sensitivity, however, does not go unnoticed.


In response to this criticism, Jordanian officials claim Queen Rania had never received any offers to publish her book in Hebrew. These same sources, the JTA reported, assert that any offers for translation would have gone directly to the U.S. publisher, Hyperion, not through the queen.


The book is directed at children aged 4 through 8, but there is no word yet to suggest that the book will ever be published in Hebrew.

Related articles: (Rania, Jordan, Sandwich Swap, Salma and Lily, Hyperion, Amman)
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