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Marya Zarif

Marya Zarif was born in Aleppo, Syria and now lives in Montreal. Zarif is a multidisciplinary and multiplatform artist, and the author, designer, and co-director of the animated series Dounia, broadcast on both Télé-Québec and CBC Gem. Her picture book Dounia was first published in French in 2021 by Bayard Canada Livres.

Fiction (Juvenile, Picture book)

Dounia and the Magic Seeds

Translated by Yvette Ghione.
Toronto: Owlkids Books, 2023.

Publisher’s Synopsis (From its website)

Dounia loves her home in Aleppo, Syria, and all of its wonderful smells, sights, and traditions. But when war breaks out, Dounia and her grandparents must flee their home to find safety. Before they go, their neighbor reads their future in a cup of coffee and sees a long, difficult journey ahead, and a blue house waiting at the end.

With only a bird carved from Aleppo soap and four little baraké seeds in her pocket, Dounia and her family face dangerous waters, a camp surrounded by barbed wire, and unfriendly soldiers. Remembering the ancient knowledge that baraké seeds ward off evil, Dounia pulls one from her pocket to use for each of the threats her family faces. Magically, the seeds help the family along their way, until they finally find the blue house prophesied by their neighbor.


Publisher Owlkids Books

Dounia and the Magic Seeds discussion guide

Dounia film and original book website