I See the Sun in Turkey
By Dedie King with illustrations by Judith Inglese
For children ages 5 and up
Wouldn’t it be wonderful to learn, in a more meaningful way, what living in Turkey is really like through the eyes of a child? In the seventh title in the I See the Sun series, readers are introduced to Mehmet, a bright, happy boy who shares a day in his life in Istanbul, Turkey.
Mehmet’s life is quite similar to every other young child’s life in that he eats breakfast with his family, attends school and enjoys spending time with his friends. Through vibrant illustrations, readers tour the Old City, fishing on the Bosphorus and taking a tram ride past the Hippodrome.
I See the Sun in Turkey by Dedie King and Judith Inglese provides a unique introduction to the culture, family life and language of Turkey in a way that is age-appropriate and sensitive to the current culture and circumstances without being political. As with the other books in the series, the author has spent a considerable amount of time in Turkey, not merely as a tourist, but immersed in the environment and living with families who have opened their homes and their hearts to her.
Like the other books in the I See The Sun Series, I See the Sun in Turkey was written in English and also translated into Turkish by Hilal Sen, a woman who has lived her life in Istanbul. I See the Sun in Turkey was vetted independently for authenticity and accuracy and is richly illustrated with collages made from original photographs and colorful drawings. It also includes an overview of the country, a glossary of unfamiliar words.
“Turkey’s political situation is often in the news, but this book focuses mostly on the everyday life of a young child in Istanbul. The English text is in a clear, Roman typeface, with alternating Turkish paragraphs set in italics. The story is bookended by morning and evening calls to prayer, when Mehmet, about 6, remarks on how the light falls on the mosque minarets at each time of day. The family is not shown praying, however, and Mehmet attends a coed secular school. “Some of Mama’s friends wear headscarves. Mama doesn’t. She says there are many paths to Allah.” The day’s highlight is a fishing trip with his brother and father. Mehmet notices “a boy my size with his mother.” They are not speaking Turkish, and the child “looks sad and hungry.” A contemporary issue creeps into the text as Mehmet’s father explains “that there are many refugees here in Istanbul.” Mehmet generously gives the boy his fishing rod. Later, Mehmet goes roller-skating at the plaza surrounding a neighborhood mosque and watches a soccer game on TV. An afterword for older readers provides some historical facts and explanations about figures mentioned in the text such as Rumi and Atatürk. Adult readers not familiar with Turkish history may wish this had been integrated directly into the text. The collages place rather static human figures assembled from cut paper and with drawn-on details into photographic backgrounds that give a sense of depth and place. Emphasizing daily commonalities, this is a useful book on urban Turkish culture.”
“King’s addition to the bilingual series takes readers on a tour of Turkey through a young boys’ eyes. From waking up to “the echoing morning prayer” of the mosque and seeing the sun, the story follows his typical day (going to a traditional Turkish school, going on an outing with his father, etc.). Focusing on destinations in Istanbul such as the Blue Mosque, Haghia Sophia, and the Galata Bridge, the book provides a slightly touristy but overall true glimpse of Turkey. The use of photos combined with Inglese’s illustrations creates an interesting guidebooklike effect, while keeping consistent with the art style in the other books in the series. The bilingual nature of this picture book makes it better suited for independent or one-on-one reading. The story is well written; however, while the Turkish is quite fluid, the English is choppy. The translation is matched line to line giving it a robotic flow instead of a natural one The most useful parts of this book are the duo-language glossary, which offers a clear definition of some words that cannot be immediately explained in the text, and the “About Istanbul, Turkey” page, which includes facts and cultural information that is easy to understand for the younger crowd. VERDICT A fine addition to geography and bilingual collections.”
— School Library Journal