Seven Daughters and Seven Sons is a 1982 novel based on an Iraqi folktale written by Barbara Cohen and Bahija Lovejoy. This is the current read-aloud at our house, recommended by Sonlight Curriculum for the unit on Middle Eastern studies. It is in many ways a rather risque book for Unit 5 students who may range from age 8 to 13. It tells the tale of a young lady who dresses as a man, joins a caravan and eventually sets up a successful business in Tyre where she is befriended by the local prince. She falls in love with the prince. And the prince finds himself uncomfortably attracted to this "young man." The Sonlight Curriculum at one point recommends skipping a rather erotic paragraph in which the young lady examines her own blossoming feminine physique.
The issue of homosexuality doesn't come up often around our house. African culture is not highly sensitized to homosexuality and so we haven't really had to try to do "spin control" on bizarre ideas that the kids are picking up from their environment. Even so, I don't think the topic needs to be hidden at this stage since children always know more than their parents think they do and what isn't talked about as a family can only be wondered about. So, it will probably be good to talk about this even if it results in some embarrassment (for parents and children).
Another good book based on the Arabian Nights motif is Shadow Spinner by Susan Fletcher. Again it depicts a young proactive heroine (Am I supposed to say "hero" on this blog?) who uses her wits and initiative to save the day.
I'm sorry I don't have something more substantive to blog on but JK's been cranking out so much wonderful stuff here that I thought I should at least try to throw out something.