Author Highlight: Mariam Hussein

Mariam Hussein, author of Alana’s Bananas, is an elementary school teacher, mother of two boys, and eldest sister of Ruqaya’s Bookshelf founder Asmaa Hussein.

Mariam’s picture book—about a girl named Alana who refuses to eat anything but bananas—was originally a project she did in teacher’s college. The story “sat in storage for years” before her sister Asmaa remembered it and asked her to dig it out.

After some revision and professional illustrations—“I had hand-drawn hideous illustrations for it,” Mariam jokes—it was published by Ruqaya’s Bookshelf in 2017.

The main character in the story, Alana, was named after a close friend of Mariam’s, and the fact that it rhymed with “banana” didn’t hurt either. But where did the idea for the story come from?

Mariam says she was “trying to perpetuate the idea that eating healthy is very important for kids”; the idea also came from her “passion for eating healthy food and making recipes.”

Growing up, she remembers trying out different recipes with her siblings during summer break, “basically out of boredom.” She remembers a particular thick red cookbook of her mother’s that was filled with recipes both sweet and savoury—and there were always splotches on the pages with the best recipes!

Alana’s Bananas is a funny book that carries an important message. “In the story, Alana was obsessed with only one food, and even though bananas are healthy, you still need to have a balanced diet. And it’s also kind of silly, so I felt it would appeal to kids.”

Grab your copy of Alana’s Bananas today!

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