The theme of Deep in the Sahara is simple: An Arab girl of the Sahara who wants to wear a malafa, the veil/dress worn by the women of her faith. She wants to wear the malafa to be like the women of the village, but it is not until she learns what it really means that her mother allows her to wear it.
Kelly Cunnane tells you that the malafa represents all the things the girl thinks it is: beauty, mystery, tradition and belonging. But it also means faith. The words are poetic and as vibrant as the art of Hoda Hadadi. The work of arts that Hadadi created accents these words by their amazingly colorful and beautiful details. These illustrations are a lovely combination of bold and soft. The colors, the world the girl is from and the meaning of the malafa pops off the page.
I am not sure how easy of a bedtime read this would be. Or how wide of an appeal it could have. However, it is great for the classroom setting. Cunnane has spent some time in the Muslim country of Mauritania (where the book is set) and tells a bit about the experiences they had there and feelings they experienced before and after their living there. The afterword is not overwhelming but gives some information to help set a scene of what we are reading. There is also a short glossary and explanation about the fact the language of the people is oral, and the types of languages spoken. Over all, this book is a delightful introduction to a people, faith and a country many might not be familiar with.