Rumaysa: A Fairytale

Rumaysa: A Fairytale

By Author / Illustrator

Radiya Hafiza, Rhaida El Touny, Areeba Siddique


Fairy Tales & Folk Tales

Age range(s)



Pan Macmillan




Paperback / softback




Step into a Once Upon a Time where anything is possible . . . Radiya Hafiza's enchanting and funny debut weaves together three stories, spinning the classic fairytale to show that anyone can be a hero.

'Rumaysa, Rumaysa, let down your hijab!' 

For as long as she can remember Rumaysa has been locked away in her tower, forced to spin straw into gold for the evil Witch, unable to leave. Until one day, after dropping a hijab out of her small tower-window, Rumaysa realizes how she might be able to escape.... Join Rumaysa as she adventures through enchanted forests and into dragon's lairs, discovers her own incredible magical powers and teams up with Cinderayla and Sleeping Sara!

Rumaysa: A Fairytale is a magically fresh, empowering and funny debut, which retells three classic fairytales - Rapunzel, Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty - with beautiful inside illustrations by Rhaida El Touny and cover illustration by Areeba Siddique.

Discover more of Rumaysa's adventures in the enchanting sequel Rumaysa: Ever After.



At first glance this is another version of the familiar fairy tales, but this is cleverer than that. Taking the fairy tales of Rapunzel, Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty, this book turns them on their heads and links them together as one story, featuring Rumaysa, the girl locked in a tower.

Rumaysa does not have long hair, but rather a long hijab that she lets down from the tower to escape. All the characters are brown skinned and not the helpless creatures from the traditional tales. The young women are all independent thinkers and do not need a man to rescue them. Some of the scenes are genuinely tense and full of danger, particularly some of the final story with the chase by the dragon. The women are not faint-hearted and nor should the reader be.

Rumaysa is kind and caring and as well as her magic, her strength of character saves the day. She is a heroine to cheer for and you can’t help but like her. For some children, this will be the first time they have seen themselves in a story like this. A hijab-wearing heroine in a fantasy tale is a huge step forward in creating books where children are able to see themselves and identify with the main character.

It is also the clever twists on the well-known tales and the plot changes that make the familiar very original. The book is illustrated with delightful line drawings by Rhaida El Touny, that seem to capture the spirit of the story. Some are chapter headings, but others are whole or half page spreads that are very engaging.

I can see this being a 'must have' book for classrooms, and one that will bring joy for many children.

240 pages / Reviewed by Jacqueline Harris, teacher

Suggested Reading Age 9+


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