Today we’re delighted to reveal the cover for Sour Cherries: An Afghan Family Story by Dezh Azaad, illustrated by Nan Cao! The book will be released by Abrams Books for Young Readers on May 21, 2024. Preorder it here, here, or here.
Keep scrolling for exclusive author and illustrator’s notes!
A moving, personal story about an Afghan refugee child and the sour cherries that connect him to family and home.
My favorite day is in the summer,
picking cherries with my mother.
Sour Cherries follows a summer day as an Afghan child learns to make sour cherry jam, stew, and tea with his mother, just like she learned from her mother. Pull the stem, pop the seed—together, they carefully prepare their family dishes while sharing stories of his grandmother and the place they come from. Inspired by the author’s life, this warmhearted companion to The Carpet: An Afghan Family Story celebrates the taste of home.
A word from the author:
Sour Cherries is all about how the perfume and the taste of the cherries ignite loving memories of family and a home faraway. We’ve all experienced that moment when a smell or a song brings back a childhood memory. For me, it only takes a whiff of sour cherries or a sip of sour cherry tea, and I am transported back to a summer day picking and preparing the cherries with my family—my mother handing us the buckets to gather the cherries, my father building the fire so we can stew the cherries. As a refugee, the joyful tradition of picking and making delicacies with the cherries, connects me to the home that I cannot have, just as sour cherries did for my parents when they were forced to flee their home in Afghanistan. What smell or taste reminds you of home? — Dezh Azaad
A word from the illustrator:
When I was little, my family spent the summer holidays in the forests in Northwestern China. A highlight was our picnics in the woods! Those summers are some of my fondest memories from my childhood. When I was illustrating Dezh’s story, I was living through those precious memories again: tall trees, blooming flowers, delicious food, and the joy in spending time together. In this book, I explored a variety of hand made textures, bold colors, organic shapes and patterns to bring a visual feast to our readers. — Nan Cao
Dezh Azaad is an Afghan writer who’s been a refugee his whole life. He is the author of The Carpet: An Afghan Family Story, and lives in Germany, where he teaches Persian to refugee children and leads seminars for teens and young adults on social change, race, and the climate crisis. Dezh loves tinkering with electronics and cooking meals that take five hours to make and five minutes to eat. You can visit him at https://dezhazaad.com/ and @dezhazaad
Born in Taiyuan, China, illustrator Nan Cao is now based in New York City. Her work is inspired by surreal imagery and her daily life in the big city. When she is not drawing, Nan loves to hang out in the park, daydream under the sun or get lost in her book collection. She has worked with clients such as Abrams, School of Visual Arts, Stanford Magazine, Stanford d. school, Johns Hopkins Magazine, Anorak Magazine, Bulletin Magazine, Spectrum, to name a few. Nan holds an MFA in Illustration as Visual Essay from the School of Visual Arts. Her work has been recognized by American Illustration, Society of Illustrators, Communication Arts, Association of Illustrators, 3×3 and Creative Quarterly. Visit her at https://www.nancaoart.com/ and @nancaoart