Queen Rania of Jordan
Queen Rania of Jordan reading to children in New York in April 2010. Photo by Getty Images
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Queen Rania of Jordan has turned down several offers to publish a Hebrew version of a children's book she recently wrote. The book, which was published in the United States by Hyperion under the title "The Sandwich Swap" for children between 4 and 8 years old, was co-written with Kelly DiPucchio and illustrated by Tricia Tusa.

During a promotional campaign for the book, the queen described it as the story of two girls who let the food they bring to school get in the way of their friendship. They disparage each other's food based on their own cultural preconceptions. The two main characters, Lily and Salma, have a lot in common, but not when it comes to their sandwiches: Lily prefers the all-American peanut butter and jelly, while Salma sticks to pita and hummus.

Friendship and food fights

The two learn how to maintain their friendship, despite their cultural differences, but not without a food fight at school in which their classmates take sides. The confrontation ends, however, with a party at which the children exchange sandwiches. The book's message touches open such issues as getting to know others, openness and multiculturalism.

Brisk sales of the book have put it on the New York Times' bestseller list, and its promotion in the United States has included appearances by the Jordanian queen in television interviews with Oprah Winfrey and Barbara Walters. The book was launched in April with a reading given by Rania at the United Nations.

The queen was born into a family of Palestinian origin, and she studied in the multicultural atmosphere of an English-speaking school in Kuwait. In an interview she gave after the book was published, she said the story had been influenced by her own childhood, and that her own mother in fact sent her to school with hummus and pita sandwiches. Queen Rania also described her shock the first time she saw a classmate eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

Since 2007, Queen Rania has been working with UNICEF on child welfare issues and as honorary chairwoman of the UN's effort to promote the education of girls.

"The Sandwich Swap" has been published in English and Arabic. The queen's website notes that proceeds from the sale of the book will go to an organization in Jordan that is renovating 500 schools there.