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Does My Head Look Big in This?: 01/14/19

Does My Head Look Big in This?

In the fall of 2017 I borrowed a copy of the Scholastic edition of Does My Head Look Big in This? by Randa Abdel-Fattah. I got about ninety pages into the book and had to return it because Scholastic had made an absolute dog's breakfast of the imported edition. Scholastic seems to forget that Americans speak a form of English. So do Australians.

Children and teenagers who read imported books in the same language as their own, but with (gasp) a different dialect can still understand what they read. The worst thing that would happen is they might have to look up some words in the dictionary.

Scholastic on the other hand would like to dupe their readers in believing the whole damn world speaks the same brand of English as their American style sheet. That means that in Melbourne, when someone makes a joke about needing to call the emergency number, they call it "911" instead of "triple zero."

By Americanizing everything that Amal Abdel-Hakim narrates throws her cadence off. Her story is about her decision to wear a hijab at her school in a post September Eleventh world. It's about having to get permission from the school because of the strict uniform. It's about the intrusive questions she's asked. It's about the tug of war between her religious and secular relatives.

But all of this is written in an authentic teenage girl living in Melbourne. That is unless you read the Scholastic edition. Then she sounds like an American doing a terrible Australian accent.

Four stars

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