My Friend Suhana
ISBN 978-1-61599-211-9 PAPERBACK
ISBN 978-1-61599-212-6 HARDCOVER
ISBN 978-1-61599-210-2 EBOOK
My friend Suhana is like no other girl I know….
She does not answer when I call her. She does not play tag or hopscotch with me, and she does not ride a bike. We have never had a play date.
Award-winning author and designer Shaila Abdullah teams up with her 10-year-old daughter Aanyah Abdullah to bring you this heartwarming tale of a little girl who forms a close bond with a child with cerebral palsy. The girl finds that through her art, she can reach her special friend Suhana. Based on a true story of a loving bond between Aanyah and Suhana.
Winner of the Dolly Gray Children’s Literature Award
- Friendship Circle Special Needs: 5 Beautiful Picture Books That Educate Children About Special Needs
- Cyrus Webb: Top 20 Books for Young Readers/Teen Readers of 2014
“My Friend Suhana tells the story of a young girl that forms a close bond with another young girl with Cerebral Palsy, mirroring an experience that the author’s daughter, Aanyah Abdullah, had experienced with volunteering with her mother. Through art, the girls come to communicate with and understand one another. Along with providing easy-to-understand information about Cerebral Palsy for a younger audience, My Friend Suhana emphasizes that communication and friendship can occur in non-traditional ways.
–Children’s Neurobiological Solutions
“My Friend Suhana was a delightful read for a children’s book. Very well illustrated with respect, a friendship, and advocacy all in mind at the same time. This book explained the special needs of Suhana and it gave an opportunity to open the discussion that children ask about kids using wheelchairs. This precious book is so well written, in which it shares love, compassion, being a helper, and also explains to a child of respecting the differences with a disability. As a leader in advocating for the “most overlooked” disabilities, which sometimes include nonverbal communication, this was outstanding in providing these differences. I look forward to sharing this book! Thank you for your love shared!”
–Dawn Cruzan, President, Camp Craig Allen for all abilities
“Great read. Colorful and lively illustrations! A book of actions! So vastly opposite of the nature of cerebral palsy! Children and adult will find it endearing and heartwarming.” Full review.
–D.B. Rhoomes, Binghamton Children’s Book Examiner
“My Friend Suhana: A Story of Friendship and Cerebral Palsy is the heartwarming account of a special friendship forged between the young co-author (10 year-old Aanyah Abdullah) and a little girl, Suhana who has cerebral palsy. The book does a great job of focusing on the “abilities” of Suhana and provides guidance for children with regards to facilitating friendship with children who have a disabilities. This book would be a great resource in early elementary classrooms or in a school or public library. I highly recommend this book for ages 3+.”
–Renee Cormier, Mother Daughter Book Reviews
“Promoting friendship, respect, and support, this children’s book aides in teaching others that art can help overcome and accept the differences of physical characteristics in others. It shows the bond that a mother and daughter share caring and loving those who have physical or mental disabilities as they convey how to be a true friend.”
–Conny Crisalli, Book Pleasures
“My Friend Suhana is a wonderful story of a seven-year-old girl who befriends a girl with cerebral palsy. I would highly recommend My Friend Suhana. It is a well illustrated book and sends a good message to children about the importance of respect, friendship and love regardless of one’s abilities. Many children do not understand why people with disabilities are different and this book is a great story to introduce how to be compassionate to others that are different. Full review.”
“My Friend Suhana is a children’s book about a young girl’s friendship with a girl named Suhana who has Cerebral Palsy. The pictures are colorful, and the text is simple enough to be read to a child age 5 and up. Overall, My Friend Suhana teaches empathy, love and friendship which, I think, any young child can benefit from.” Full review.
–Parenting Special Needs Magazine
“This heartfelt story shares what it would be like to have a friend with cerebral palsy. Parents, teachers and young readers will appreciate the stories purpose and enjoy the colorful illustrations depicting the moods of Suhana and the love and caring she receives from her friend…Both authors have done an excellent job of educating us on how to be role models by opening our minds and hearts to the possibilities.”
–Kristi’s Book Nook
“My Friend Suhana, for which Kindle and ePub editions are also available, was inspired by the experiences of the authors. While helping her mother with a special needs class at a local community center, a seven year old girl befriends another seven year old girl named Suhana who has cerebral palsy. It is a simple tale of love and friendship that will warm everyone’s heart.”
–Wayne Walker, Home School Book Reviews
“Children with cerebral palsy, like Suhana, the special 7-year-old child in this book, might never take a first step, say their first words or even do the same things other kids can do. But, they can understand kindness, love and true friendship. This is a story about two young 7-year-old girls whose friendship will span a lifetime and whose love will never die … There are so many themes that are brought to light in this wonderfully illustrated book. Friendship, understanding, love, kindness and trust…This mother and daughter have presented a well written, special, colorfully illustrated book that is definitely a must read for children in the lower grades, read aloud in every classroom, hospital groups, book store book signings and even at centers with children who have CP who can learn that they can do anything all they need to do is try.”
–Fran Lewis, former Reading and Writing Staff Developer at NYC Public Schools
“My Friend Suhana is a delightful read about the unconditional friendship between Suhana, a seven year old girl with Cerebral Palsy and the narrator, a kind, loving kid who calls Suhana her best friend and cares for her like a sister.Teaching children to accept, understand and care about those who are different, would make them grow up to be compassionate, empathetic and kind toward others. I’m sure, My Friend Suhana would be a wonderful addition to any school or children’s library.
–Doodles, Doodles Everywhere
“I was thoroughly enthralled by My Friend Suhana and not just because it was written by the mother-daughter team of Shaila and Aanyah Abdullah, but also because of the openness, love and caring that the main character has for her best friend. I think this book is a must read for all children. It’s a great way to introduce them to the differences in people, and not to be afraid of differences. It lets them know that inside is what matters, not the outside.”
“This colorfully illustrated book is authored by a mother-daughter writing team, and is written in the first-person. It retains the young writer’s personality, which gives the book a lovely and innocent voice. The message is one of friendship, love, patience, celebrating differences, and working to understand someone who is unable to communicate in ways that most children simply expect.”
–Stanley and Katrina Book Reviews
“It’s always a good idea to teach children how to treat others with kindness and respect, and it’s heartwarming to read about kids who show kindness and compassion for others.This is an important story to read and share with kids. The drawings are well done, the language is easy to understand, and the follow-up at the end is a nice touch.”
“My Friend Suhana is an innocent story of a girl who has a friend with cerebral palsy and answers these questions as she allows us to peek into their friendship. Suhana’s friend is also the narrator. She draws Suhana pictures and plays with her. This book will help some kids who are afraid of people that are different than them to open up and share a bit more of themselves. This book will greatly help children learn that they too can be friends with someone who is different than them. I really like the simplicity of the story and the understanding Suhana’s friend has for her.
–Heart of a Philanthropist
“I enjoyed this book so much from three perspectives. Firstly as a nurse who has worked with children with cerebral palsy, second as a mother of a toddler that I want to grow up to learn compassion for children with disabilities and third as a writer, I am so impressed that a mother and daughter collaborated on this project because they are both truly passionate about raising awareness.”
–Julie Ann Grasso, author and writer of Blog When I Grow Up
“My Friend Suhana: A Story of Friendship and Cerebral Palsy is a loving story that introduces young readers to children with special needs and teaches them that patience, understanding, and compassion can develop into a beautiful friendship. I congratulate the authors on sharing their story which enlightens others and shows how a little kindness can blossom into something incredible. My Friend Suhana is a must read and should be shared with all the little ones in your life.”
–Beach Bound Books
“This is a good book about the importance of befriending people with special needs, and it serves as an easy-to-understand characterization of a character severely impacted by cerebral palsy…The details about how Suhana communicates with sounds and movements is excellent, as well the narrator’s insight that colors are a useful representational tool for Suhana’s emotions, rather than words Suhana can’t say. I also appreciate that both girls are characters of color.”
–Anti-Bias Children’s Book Review
“I simply love it when I read a picture book and it tells a story that I can truly connect with. As a special educator this story really touched my heart.”
–A Leisure Moment
“Shaila Abdullah’s My Friend Suhana, co-authored by Abdullah’s daughter, Aanyah, now age ten, is a children’s book that challenges every reader of every ability. What would inspire such a powerful, yet eloquently stated and illustrated book, but the honesty and clarity of a child? It is not by happenstance, I’m sure, that the book is beautifully written and expressed with artistic, whimsical flare that these two children are brought off the pages and into your lap. Through the honest and wise eyes of a child, we are taught one of the most prominent desires I hear children with varied abilities and ages express, through words or actions, the desire of being accepted. Acceptance and the desire to be understood are the resounding cries that I have witnessed over so many years, and Abdullah’s book, My Friend Suhana, nails it. Well over 52 million Americans live with some level of disability, presenting unique struggles on all fronts, and the population is growing. It is more important than ever to learn the powerful message that My Friend Suhana brings to light. What an honor it is to know and share My Friend Suhana.”
–Deborah M. Oveland, Founder SpeciaLives and a Special Needs Mom
“A special ribbon threads the thoughtful and multi-faceted reflections reported by this book’s seven-year old narrator—her expressions are grounded in the unconditional acceptance and caring she has for her same-age friend, Suhana, who is challenged by cerebral palsy. Because Suhana is neither physically able to participate in typical seven-year old activities, nor does she have verbal skills, her “normal” friend communicates with her by producing and sharing her childlike, artful pictures. The charming and appealing illustrations that accompany this narrative written by Shaila and Aanyah, a mother-daughter team, add to the truthful but very upbeat story. This book makes a significant contribution to children’s literature and to the ethical and moral development of children. Its “everyday” tone and word usage neither sugarcoats nor diminishes reality, but demonstrates children’s compassion to others by giving respect and love to those different from us.”
–Shirley M. Hord, author and scholar laureate at Learning Forward
“Suhana isn’t the easiest friend for a 7-year-old girl. She can’t run around or ride a bike. And she expresses joy, anger, sadness in exactly the same way: She screams. Suhana has cerebral palsy, and in this poignant children’s book, Shaila Abdullah and her daughter Aanyah write about the challenges – and the rewards that outweigh them – of befriending a special needs child. With its charming illustrations by Abdullah, and its affecting message, this book will strike a chord with children and adults like.”
–Gwen Florio, author of Montana
“My Friend Suhana is a charming and perceptive book that will draw its readers into empathy while allowing them to enjoy this heartwarming story of two uncommon friends.”
–Chitra Divakaruni, author of Grandma and the Great Gourd
“My Friend Suhana is the story of a seven-year-old’s first attempt at unconditional love. Tough but tender, painful yet full of laughter, inspirational yet utterly real, this is a small gem of tale. Highly recommended for anyone in the position of mentoring a beloved child through the hard places of life.”
–Paula Huston, author of A Season of Mystery and A Land Without Sin
“My Friend Suhana is a compassionate story of a unique friendship between a girl who volunteers at a special needs class and seven year-old Suhana who has cerebral palsy. The friendship between the two girls in the story conveys a powerful insight into the redeeming quality of love. The eye-catching illustrations that animate Suhana’s story will enchant young readers. When read aloud, the clearly spoken words will captivate the hearts of younger children. I recommend that every child should have the opportunity to read this charming and informative book to learn the pleasure embodied in selfless love and service.”
–Bapsi Sidhwa, playwright, author of Cracking India