Ruler of the Courtyard

Ruler of the Courtyard
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Ruler of the Courtyard Insert
A picture book by Rukhsana Khan
Illustrated by R. Gregory Christie
Published by Viking Children's Books
32 pg, Hardcover
$15.99 USD / $24.00 CDN
ISBN 0-670-03583-1

Buy Ruler of the Courtyard at
AR Quiz No. 69630 EN
IL: LG - BL: 2.6 - AR Pts: 0.5
AR Quiz Types: RP

View Teacher's Guide

Saba is terrified of the chickens in the courtyard, but one day, after running her daily gauntlet to get to the bathhouse, she faces something much more terrifying!

Awards & Recognition

  • Nick Jr. Magazine (Dec. 2003) Chose Ruler of the Courtyard as the Most Suspenseful Story of the Year


"Suspense, a positive message, and illustrations that show up across the room, make this a winner for reading aloud." and "The Pakistani setting provides an additional and timely dimension to this perfectly paced story."

-Kirkus Starred Review, December 15th, 2002-


"The illustrations are vigorous and slightly naive, featuring hot bright backgrounds and scratchily malevolent chickens. Saba is a real girl; Nani is her concerned grandmother, and the attentive detail to their expressions- fear, surprise, and confidence- brings life to their portraits."

-School Library Journal Starred Review-


"Khan imagines Saba's quick thinking as she comes up with a strategy to deal with the perceived menace... Noteworthy for its portrayal of the accoutrements of another culture, this work also redirects easily recognizable feelings into a readily shared message about self-reliance and courage."

-Publisher's Weekly, January 6th, 2003-


"This spare tale set in Pakistan has wonderful energy and use of language: short, staccato sentences that capture Saba's fear give way to smooth soaring language signaling her jubilant victory.  Illustrator Christie gives us vibrant Picasso-esque chickens done as if in fingerpaints.  He matches their vitality with an equally powerful landscape of oranges and yellows that frames Saba's pink house.  But his greatest triumph is the character of black-haired, bright turquoise-garbed Saba: close-ups of her cowering in terror and apprehension give way to her raucous blitz of the outdoors and the offensive chickens.  This place-specific story has a universal heart."

-The Horn Book Magazine, March/April 2003-


"Saba's story, ostensibly set in Pakistan, will resonate with children who must stand up to their own particular dread."

-Booklist, February 15th, 2003-


Jacqueline Golding says: "I'm writing to let you know how much I like Ruler of the Courtyard. As a psychologist who works extensively with children, I think it could be of real help to kids in coping with fearfulness. That's why I've included a summary of Ruler of the Courtyard in my forthcoming book for parents, Healing Stories: Picture Books for the Big and Small Changes in a Child's Life, which is scheduled for publication in September 2006 by M. Evans and Company." For more information on Ms. Golding's valuable reference, please see her website: