Thursday, November 30, 2023

Today's read... Drawing Deena by Hena Khan

Today's read comes from an author, whose works I've been enjoying for several years. She always mixes culture with everyday life so smoothly, and I appreciate her tales. So, I'm expecting quite a bit with this one, too. But then, the cover has already won me over. My favorite color just happens to be yellow, and I adore, its so artsy and dreamy. 

This one doesn't come out until February, but it's always great to have an up-and-coming list, right?


by Hena Khan
Salaam Reads
Middle Grade Contemporary
240 pages
ages 8 to 12

FEBRUARY 6th, 2024!!!

From the award-winning author of Amina’s Voice and Amina’s Song comes a tenderhearted middle grade novel about a young Pakistani American artist determined to manage her anxiety and forge her own creative path.

Deena’s never given a name to the familiar knot in her stomach that appears when her parents argue about money, when it’s time to go to school, or when she struggles to find the right words. She manages to make it through each day with the help of her friends and the art she loves to make.

While her parents’ money troubles cause more and more stress, Deena wonders if she can use her artistic talents to ease their burden. She creates a logo and social media account to promote her mom’s home-based business selling clothes from Pakistan to the local community. With her cousin and friends modeling the outfits and lending their social media know-how, business picks up.

But the success and attention make Deena’s cousin and best friend, Parisa, start to act funny. Suddenly Deena’s latest creative outlet becomes another thing that makes her feel nauseated and unsure of herself. After Deena reaches a breaking point, both she and her mother learn the importance of asking for help and that, with the right support, Deena can create something truly beautiful.


Middle school and family hit naturally with all the smiles and hurdles to touch the heart from beginning to end.

Deena's stressed. At least, that's what the dentist claims. Between no one understanding her love for art, her grades, her friends, and, more importantly, her family and their money struggles, life isn't easy. But there might be a chance to ease both the art and family ends. Determined to help her mother sell her created clothes more efficiently, Deena gets together with her cousin and best friend to set up a few social marketing endeavors. And it's a success! But it's getting to her cousin's and friend's head, which is causing Deena more stress than before. If only there were a way to fix everything.

Deena comes across as an average, middle school girl with very normal problems. She's kind, unsure, and tries her best to cope. Everything about her comes across naturally and spot-on age-wise, making her very easy to connect with, like, and cheer for. Her family is loving and kind but not perfect...just like every family. The back-and-forth between home life, school life, and friends rings with true-to-life problems and situations, while still remembering to bring enough humor to draw those needed smiles of relief. There are more than a few things readers will identify with and see in their own lives, and that in an entertaining and wholesome way.

I appreciate that the author allows Deena to tackle issues in a larger way. In other words, her mother (although not in all aspects) listens to her suggestions and lets her tackle the social media marketing, showing readers that they can accomplish even 'big' projects with determination and work (inspiring). Yet, it stays in reality and shows the borders, and in this case, that help isn't a bad thing. Of course, nothing is easy, and that's also a great message for today's readers.

Then, there's the cultural aspects. These weave in so seamlessly and add a wonderful touch. Deena never thinks about the differences really, but rather, the food, dresses, details and more are simply part of life. Readers learn about the culture...and even more, with art history and such...and that without ever feeling as if there's something to learn. It creates a smooth read with depth in many ways, which is enjoyable to read.

And here she is...

Hena Khan is a Pakistani American writer. She is the author of the middle grade novels Amina’s VoiceAmina’s Song, More to the StoryDrawing Deena, and the Zara’s Rules series and picture books Golden Domes and Silver LanternsUnder My Hijab, and It’s Ramadan, Curious George, among others. Hena lives in her hometown of Rockville, Maryland, with her family. You can learn more about Hena and her books by visiting her website at or connecting with her @HenaKhanBooks.

No comments: