Mahmoud Elzein

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Member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) and a children’s book author. I hope to write stories that inspire children to follow their dreams, act kindly, and embrace cultural diversity. I’ve worked as an Educational Technology expert at the YET (Youth Edutainment Training) Center in Los Angeles, California. I now work in global programs that empower children, improve their reading skills, and support their wellbeing.

I believe that stories that inspire us can only do so if they come from the heart.
I hope to write such stories.



BY Mahmoud Elzein • POSTED ON Dec. 2, 2020

Two girls forge a strong connection during two gift-giving holidays in this debut picture book.

One year, the Muslim holiday Eid and Christmas coincide. Blond-haired Eva’s school honors Christmas by performing A Christmas Carol for an orphanage. Brown-haired Aya’s school celebrates Eid by inviting orphans to have cake and lemonade. Both girls are pleased with what they’ve shared. The next day, the two girls go to the same toy store and get stuck together in an elevator. To help the girls focus on something less scary, Eva invents a game where both guess each other’s presents. But when they finally leave the elevator, the girls rethink their gifts when they remember the orphans and decide to give their presents to others instead. Aya donates hers to a church’s orphanage, and Eva offers hers to an orphanage run by a mosque. Elzein uses simple sentences to convey the story, focusing on the two girls’ budding friendship rather than bogging down the tale with details behind each holiday. The message of compassion and giving, especially across cultural lines, comes through clearly in accessible language for independent and lap readers. Hasan uses kid-friendly digital art to depict both girls as distinct members of their own ethnic groups, and Aya’s mother wears a hijab. (Both religious leaders are men.) Though the story’s location is never revealed, the blooming trees and flowers and an amusement park ride indicate a warm-winter (or Southern Hemisphere) site.

A charming tale that portrays bicultural kindness.

Pub Date: Dec. 2, 2020

ISBN: 979-8-57-505527-3

Page count: 32pp

Publisher: Self

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2021

A Special Day: When Eid Met Christmas

Awards, Press & Interests

A Special Day - Review , 2021 Booklife, 2021