One of William Z. Spiegelman's three children, Judith M. Spiegelman was born and raised, and is still living in, New York City. Like her father, she is a writer. Among other works, she wrote a total of six books for UNICEF between 1969 and 1971. They focused on the lives of children in Turkey, Ceylon (now known as Sri Lanka), Thailand, Bali and Afghanistan.

This blog will serve as an appreciation of and archive for her UNICEF books. So far, two of them have been scanned and uploaded: Shaer of Afghanistan, and Dayapal of Ceylon. We are currently working on Ali of Turkey.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Shaer of Afghanistan

Front cover.

The book-jacket copy says the following:

Eleven-year-old Shaer Aqaw (which means "brave as a lion") lives on a farm in Afghanistan. Like children everywhere, some of his days are ordinary and some are special.

Shaer's special day starts with a thrilling donkey ride. Usually the donkey is only for farm work. But on this day, Shaer must go to the cattle market to fetch his father. Then, he must hurry home to greet the family's visitors. Guests are treated with special courtesy in Shaer's homeland. So he and his father shop for delicious holiday foods like raisins, sugared almonds and pistachio nuts.

Shaer's ordinary day starts at 6:30 in the morning when he leaves his mud-brick house for one of the two schools he attends. First is the mosque school where he studies Moslem religion. Then he goes to the government school to study regular school subjects.

Although Shaer loves his rugged, mountainous country, its exciting history and deep traditions, he looks to the future, too. He will be a teacher and bring honor to his family.

As young readers follow Shaer's days, they begin to appreciate the independence, courage and pride of the Pastun tribe to which he and his family belong.

We are also told the following.


Judith M. Spiegelman has always been fascinated by different cultures, customs, holidays and ways of life, and she first began writing about children of other countries while on the staff of Scholastic magazine. Now with her work as staff writer and press liaison for UNICEF, she is more deeply concerned with helping children and adults everywhere understand each other. Her many books for children reflect with sensitivity this concern.

Miss Spiegelman, a native New Yorker, holds a master's degree in education from Harvard University and has taught elementary school in New York City.


Jack Ling, the Deputy Director of Information for UNICEF, is deeply involved in helping to bridge the gap of understanding between countries. During his fifteen-year career with the United Nations, he has originated ideas for, and helped to produce films, radio and television programs in every part of the world. His photo credits and article bylines for UNICEF have appeared in numerous newspapers and periodicals in the United States and Asia.

The concept of following a child throughout his day originated with Mr. Ling, first as a television series and then as a series of books.

Mr. Ling studied journalism at St. John's University in Shanghai, China, and holds degrees from Syracuse University in New York and Stanford University in california. Although he, his wife, and their two children are frequents visitors to many foreign countries, they make their home in New York City.

No comments:

Post a Comment