About the Book

Rest in My Shade is the result of a long and winding journey. Nora and Danna first met at a writing workshop led by Randa Abdel-Fattah at Tamer Institute in Ramallah, Palestine. Nora was intrigued by Danna’s writing: she nearly always wrote from the perspective of a non-human creature or a natural inanimate object such as a stone. Nora experimented by writing a short story for adults about the uprooting of an olive tree told from the perspective of the tree. Danna suggested it might work better as a children’s story, and they decide to write it together. Co-authoring is known to be fraught with complications and dangers, but the cooperation between Danna and Nora strengthened the story and their friendship. Each one improved on the other’s suggestions. The result was a true joint product. Nora set out to sell the book to a publisher with Danna as the intended illustrator.

There were many stops and starts and even more twists and turns. One publisher suggested the story should be for adults, but how would that be illustrated? Another friend suggested we illustrate using existing historical photographs, but we felt that would undermine the dream-like quality of the story. Then another friend pointed out that it really would work better as a poem rather than a story.

When we came up with the idea of a gift book comprised of a poem and art of olive trees created by Palestinians around the world, it finally felt right! Interlink agreed to publish it. The Palestine Museum US agreed to sponsor it. Friends helped us crowdsource the artwork, and artists eagerly participated. Even though it was far more work and effort than any of us anticipated, we are proud of the result and hope that readers of all ages will be grabbed by the heart to learn more and take action.


Many people contributed to the cultivation of this book. We thank all those who read drafts, made suggestions, helped network, and cheered us on  when it seemed that publishing a creative book about displacement was an unrealistic aspiration.

We especially thank (in alphabetical order): Anonymous Donors, Atef Abdelkefi, Rula Alami, Ziad Anani, Thoraya Al-Rayyes, Barjeel Foundation, Laura Brown, Layla Hijab Cable, Garrett Deckel, Mirene Ghossein, Samira Ahmad Jalajel, Janine Kabbara, Andrew Karney, Simon J. Klein and Lenore Feigenbaum, Katharine S. Lester, Anna Levy, Abigail Abysalh Metzger, Mary Onorato, Marina Petrolati, Marcia Lynx Qualey, Faisal Saleh, Nora Shawa, Pauline and Mark Solomon, Olivia Snaijle, Vicki Tamoush, and Johanna Tiemann.

Rest in My Shade would not be the book it is without the awe-inspiring art created by Palestinians around the world — evoking, examining and perpetuating Palestinian culture through art in a way that connects peoples and brings meaning to life’s challenges.

Our special thanks to our families, who encouraged us, supported us, and washed the dishes so that we could harvest.

Nora Lester Murad

Originally from California, moved to Jerusalem in 2004 with her Palestinian husband and three Palestinian-American daughters. She was inspired to write this story by her father and mother-in-law whose love for their olive trees echoes the deep connection between Palestinians and their land throughout the generations and across the continents. Nora now lives in Massachusetts and is a writer, educator and social justice activist. Her other books are I Found Myself in Palestine and Ida in the Middle.

Danna Masad

Originally from Zeita village and raised in Ramallah, Palestine, Danna is an environmentalist, an activist, and an architect with a deep love for her land and people. Her inspiration for this story comes from witnessing the deep connection that developed over a lifetime between her grandmother and the olive trees she tended.