When I read this book aloud to my children, they were on the edge of their seats, begging me to keep reading.
Seven Daughters and Seven Sons by Barbara Cohen and Bahija Lovejoy tells the story of Buran, the daughter of a poor merchant in Baghdad. She has six other sisters, and her family despairs of ever being able to marry their daughters to decent husbands without dowries.
Meanwhile, Buran’s wealthy uncle has seven sons, the pride of his life. And he enjoys visiting his poor brother to gloat over his good fortune.
After much thought and deliberation, Buran asks her father to invest in her and send her to another city to set up shop and make a fortune for her family. She draws inspriation from Shahrazad (which makes reading Shadow Spinner first a good idea) and the stories she told. She asks for her father’s blessing to dress as a boy and leave her home.
In desperation for his daughters’ futures, her father agrees, and Buran sets out to become a merchant. Then, disguised as a man, she befriends Mahmud. As they spend time together, Buran finds herself in danger of being discovered… and falling in love.
Seven Daughters and Seven Sons Is a beautiful love story – love between a father and his daughter, between sisters, between a man and a woman.
Highly recommended for ages 14 and up.
(If you are reading this book aloud to younger children, there’s a section in the third part of the book which you will want to skip. In my edition, it’s on the page 151, where Buran is looking at her naked self and realizing she’s a woman. You can skip the details for younger listeners, substituting “That” and skipping to the next paragraph.)