Union Square Kids

Tagging Freedom

By Rhonda Roumani (Author)


Pub Date 11/7/2023

ISBN 9781454950714

Format Hardcover, Jacketed


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Out of the revolutions across the Arab world comes this inspirational story of hope, freedom, and belonging, perfect for fans of Other Words for Home and A Good Kind of Trouble.

Kareem Haddad of Damascus, Syria, never dreamed of becoming a graffiti artist. But when a group of boys from another town tag subversive slogans outside their school, and another boy is killed while in custody, Kareem and his friends are inspired to start secretly tag messages of freedom around their city.

Meanwhile, in the United States, his cousin, Samira, has been trying to make her own mark. Anxious to fit in at school, she joins the Spirit Squad where her natural artistic ability attracts the attention of the popular leader. Then Kareem is sent to live with Sam’s family, and their worlds collide. As graffitied messages appear around town and all eyes turn to Kareem, Sam must make a choice: does she shy away to protect her new social status, or does she stand with her cousin?  

Informed by her time as a journalist, author Rhonda Roumani's Tagging Freedom is a thoughtful look at the intersection between art and activism, infused with rich details and a realistic portrayal of how war affects and inspires children, similar to middle grade books for middle schoolers by Aisha Saeed, The Night Diary by Veera Hiranandi, or Refugee by Alan Gratz.
A Children’s Book Council Children, Teacher, and Librarian Favorite, Grades 6-8

“A well-characterized novel offering insight into Syrian perspectives.”—Kirkus Reviews

"High-stakes conflicts in the form of Kareem’s fears for those he left behind play powerfully against adolescent challenges, such as Sam’s emotionally vulnerable angst about fitting in, delivering a strongly paced tale."—Publishers Weekly

"Thought-provoking and heartfelt, this novel parallels the struggles teens feel with loss and bullying situations to the oppression that citizens often feel when the government is deceitful. Preteens and teens will find this book relatable and real. An outstanding novel that hits its mark, demonstrating that young teens grapple with a gamut of emotions and situations yet are resilient enough to work through them and achieve success. Highly recommended." —School Library Journal STARRED Review

“This is a must-read for those looking for more Arab and Muslim representation in middle-grade titles. Roumani skillfully weaves together two different points of view to create a powerful story of activism that captures the importance of standing up for yourself and advocating for others.” —Booklist

“This is a powerful read.”—BookRiot -

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“…An important book—a book that shows how art and activism can change the way people see the world and see themselves.” –Rajani LaRocca, Newbury Honor and Walter Award-winning author of Red, White, and Whole -

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Rhonda Roumani is a Syrian American journalist who lived in Syria as a reporter for U.S. newspapers. She has written about Islam, the Arab world, and Muslim-American issues for more than two decades. Currently, she is a contributing fellow at the Center for Religion and Civic Culture at USC. Rhonda lives in Connecticut with her family.

Title Details

Pages 288 pages

Trim 5.5 x 8.25 x 0 Inches

Territories World

Category Middle Grade Fiction

Age Range 8 to 12