Based on legend yet rooted in real historical events, The Burning Boats is an exhilarating story pertaining to the actual moments leading to and following through the conquest of Spain in the year 711CE. The story of the ‘House of Wisdom’, alongside that of the heroic Florinda and the villainous King Roderick, makes up much of this modern retelling of a classic tale. The power struggle and battle that ensures not only establishes the course of the story but the course of Islamic history.
Burning Boats is aimed at children and teenagers, with its gripping narrative and colourful illustrations, which capture the essence of the time. When reading Burning Boats young readers will be drawn to Florinda, the novel’s teenage protagonist, with her strong, clever and impassioned character. Set in a time when the Islamic world is on the cusp of its golden age, spreading humanitarianism, tolerance, education, arts and science, the book provides children with a positive image of Islam and a glimpse into its illustrious past. It also displays a sense of unity and peace between the Abrahamic religions in the face of tyranny, which has never been more important than in today’s multi-cultural society.
Ann al-Muslimany captures this point in her review of the book by stating: “This book is of particular importance during these turbulent times, portraying a glorious period of an advanced Islamic culture of learning and science within an atmosphere of tolerance and respect.”
About the Author
Julia Simpson, the author of the book; Burning Boats, claims that the book is essential reading because it “presents information about Islam and Muslim history in a way that is easy to absorb. Most children know very little of Islamic history. This story with the pictures gives a peek at the beginning of Islam in the West, which was a transplant that began before that time period we call the Middle Ages… the story of Spain and the Muslims is fascinating and is often misunderstood.”
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