Squire cover
Squire by Sara Alfageeh and Nadia Shammas. Illustrated by Sara Alfageeh

By Sara Alfageeh and Nadia Shammas
Illustrated by Sara Alfageeh
Quill Tree / HarperAlley, 2002
302 pages

Age 11 and older

When Bayt-Sajji leaders announce that young people ages 12-17 from any background are now eligible to become a squire, Aiza seizes the opportunity. She is Ornu; a conquered people disdained by citizens and the government alike. Success would mean a pathway to citizenship—currently denied the Ornu—not to mention potential knighthood and economic stability. At her parent’s urging, Aiza keeps her Ornu identity a secret at training camp. Her fellow recruits come from throughout the Bayt-Sajji empire, and despite their differences, and competitiveness, friendships begin to form. Unbeknownst to Aiza, one of her new friends is spying on her for the camp general, and when Aiza is promoted to squire, it’s clear to readers, but not Aiza, that the general is using Aiza, and setting up the Ornu, in order to advance both her own and the Empire’s interests. This ambitious, beautifully illustrated graphic novel is a fantasy that taps into the hopes, anxieties, pressures, and idealism of youth, with a setting and characters inspired by the diversity of the Arab world. In notes, the author and illustrator discuss their desire to encourage young people to interrogate the stories they are told that shape their understanding of history and the present, considering whose perspectives dominate the narrative, and whose perspectives and experiences are not reflected or are missing. ©2022 Cooperative Children’s Book Center