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“No winter lasts forever; no spring skips its turn.” ~ Hal Borland

I am always surprised by how swiftly winter strikes. Almost without warning and warmth and empathy, it strikes. Suddenly the flowers that once bloomed happily outside are yellowed and flailing, unable to handle the sudden cold and lack of care.

In such times like this, when I look outside my deck window, it as if everything is grey. Blue skies are grey. Green plants are yellow. Trees green leaves quickly turned yellow and red, but then even quicker than that, the leaves were harshly blown away during a storm, leaving awkward spaces of grey.  Grey. Grey. Grey.

Grateful for color inside the home:

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Grateful for newly turned 2 year old toddlers diligently counting out colorful plastic cutlery.

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Grateful for a quick photo of a once red blooming tree, now turned grey and brown.IMG_8147.JPG

Grateful for pink pompoms and crochet season!

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Couldn’t resist taking a quick photo of this puzzle piece that was happily and incorrectly put together. Grateful for the minds of 2 year olds.

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So grateful for siblings!

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Grateful for paint brushes and paintsIMG_7979.JPG

Grateful for more warm woolly hats!

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Grateful for very temporarily clean kitchens

 

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Grateful for fleeting summer sunsets

How Big is Allah? – Children’s Book Review

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I recently reviewed the book How Big is Allah? by Emma Apple. (Allah is simply the Arabic name for God!). Below are a few questions behind Emma’s thoughts. I’m always fascinated by the author’s thought process and she illustrated the book as well so her illustration process as well.

I didn’t have a chance to photograph Z reading the story, but you can see the Amazon LookInside! feature here or Middle Way Mom’s review with more in-depth photos here.

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My quick thoughts: It’s a simple, but engaging read, and does answer the basic questions in a child-friendly way as well as has a great science feel to the book. Z is learning about planets in school so was excited to see the planets and hear words such as ‘Milky Way’ that she had recently heard at school. It’s a book for more Z’s age 4 and up, rather than toddler A who is almost 2.

The book is illustrated in B&W. It has a Shel Silverstein feel from the Giving Tree, and you can really focus on the concepts. I’m a huge fan of color, but I like the story in this style and the illustrations really make a point.

Interview below!

1. How did you get the idea to turn this concept into a children’s book?

The idea for the book actually came from helping my son to understand Allah. He’s autistic and can find some less concrete and literal concepts difficult at times. He’s also insatiably curious, he and his older sister are very much into science and he has always has a special love of space. When he started asking questions about Allah, some of his questions related to Allah’s size and how Allah looks (which will be answered in the next book in the series, due out in a few months inshaAllah). My husband and I found that a really great way to explain Allah’s size, is to explain how small we are in relation to the universe, which Allah created. Of course, there is no concrete answer to how big Allah is, that’s something we can’t know, but we found talking about relative size within creation helped both our children to understand the greatness of Allah. I come from a long line of teachers, poets and playwrites, so putting the concept down in writing for other children to learn from, was only natural and my husband encouraged me to turn it into a children’s book. The ayah we’ve used to reinforce our approach to teaching this concept is in the book as well, Surah 39 Ayah 67 where Allah talks about the universe being rolled up in His Right Hand: “They made not a just estimate of Allah such as is due to Him. And on the Day of Resurrection the whole of the earth will be grasped by His Hand and the heavens will be rolled up in His Right Hand. Glorified is He, and High is He above all that they associate as partners with Him!”

How did your love for illustration develop?
Ever since I could hold a pencil I’ve being drawing, it’s always just been something I had to do. I’ve always loved the visual arts and for most of us, our first real experience with visual arts are the illustrations in the books we read or are read to as children. I’ve always been drawn to the effortless style of Mercer Mayer (Little Critter) and the bold and simple coloring of Dr Seuss, I adore the minimalism of of Robert Lawson (Ferdinand) and E. H. Shepard (Winnie The Pooh) and have drawn on the latter two for inspiration when illustrating my books, which contain black and white pen and ink illustrations. I can’t say I always aspired to be a children’s illustrator, but I always knew I wanted to pursue art as a career, I just hadn’t figured out exactly what my options were. In my 20’s, when my kids (who are 9 and 7) were little, I spent a lot of time reading to them, picture books I grew up with and books I’d never seen before, I admired and studied the illustration styles in the books as I read them night after night and finally realized children’s illustration was what I wanted to do. As a self taught artist, it’s a skill that I’ve been working quietly at for many, many years. I probably started seriously working at my drawing skills in my early teens.
Do you live in New Zealand? What’s the Muslim population like ?
I don’t live in New Zealand anymore, I left after I got married in the early 00’s. I was a new convert when I left, so I hadn’t had much to do with the Muslim community, but the people I did meet were extremely diverse, friendly and welcoming.
Is your real name Emma Apple?
 Emma Apple is a childhood nickname (well, the Apple part anyway), most people know me by only that name these days though (even my husband of 12 years first knew me as Emma Apple), so I consider it almost as much my real name as my family name is.
Do you have more plans for more books?
I have lots of plans for future books! InshaAllah! I’m almost finished the second book in this series (the Children’s First Questions series) which is tentatively titled What Does Allah Look Like? (of course, all the books are researched and written in accordance with Qur’an and sunnah, How Big Is Allah? is loved and endorsed by Salafi families all the way to non Muslim families alhamdolillah). I’ve also begun researching and drafting the third book in the series and initial planning for an educational activity book to accompany the series, inshaAllah. I have long term plans for other series’ but those are the books I’m currently working on. I’m really excited for everyone to see the next book! I’ve had a lot of fun working on it alhamdolillah.

I’m glad I had the opportunity to interview Emma and do check out her book!
Emma’s info: Best Selling Islamic Children’s Author-Illustrator EmmaApple.com
Twitter | Instagram | YouTube | Facebook
Debut Islamic Children’s Book ‘How Big Is Allah?’ (Arabic Edition
كَم اللَّه كَبيرا؟ now available) emmaapple.com/howbigisallah

1 in 4

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I’m stitching, and it’s surprisingly soothing. The sharp needle sears the coarse denim producing simple yet somehow soothing results. Z is petite which means things need to be hemmed. My mother is the good hemmer, I’m the one that can do it, but it takes longer, and it not as even. It’s Red Ribbon Week at Z’s school tomorrow, and wearing jeans and not doing drugs is ‘jeanius,’ hence why I’m attempting to hem rather than pass on the task to my mother. Time is of essence.

 

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While making semi-even stitches and adding a touch of buttons, I halfheartedly turned on the TV and saw a documentary titled India: A Dangerous Place to Be and was struck by the difficulty in being female, the hardship in being born a girl, the ease in which one can be assaulted.

1 in 4 women are assaulted.

The fact saddens me.

Similarly, it was Infant Loss Awareness Day on October 15th, and 1 in 4 women miscarry or lose infants.

This fact saddens me too.

It’s scary when as a female, you have to be constantly aware of your safety. It’s scary if you’re one of those 4 women who miscarry and suffer silently, or if you are unable to get pregnant and want to have a child.

It’s scary that these facts apply to women.

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I am lucky, blessed, and grateful to God to have 2 girls. When I think of these facts though, I am afraid for them, and hope that they will be blessed with good. I hope that we can be strong for whatever trials go our way, and to be there for those who suffer whether in silence or not.

 

A Beautiful Quote about Infant loss below:

The Prophet (PBUH) loved his son, Ibrahim, so much: “He held Ibrahim in his hands, and tears flowed from his eyes.He said, “The eyes send their tears and the heart is saddened, but we do not say anything except that which pleases our Lord. Indeed, O Ibrahim, we are bereaved by your departure from us.” Then he turned his face towards the mountain before his and said, “O mountain! If you were as sorrowful as I am, you would certainly crumble into pieces! But we say what God has ordered us.”

and a prayer, because that is all we have.

 

“My Lord! I am truly in need of whatever good that You bestow on me!’[ Quran 28:24]

1 Resource: Ibrahim’s Tree, a blog on miscarriage

2. Uplifting Quotes: Faces of Loss

3. His Name is Julaybib

Reema’s Maternity Photoshoot

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Here’s Reema’s maternity photoshoot! I was hoping for more of a  golden leaf setting, but at the end of it all, it didn’t really matter. Reema & Khalid looked excited and in anticipation for their first and new addition of a baby girl, and faces that reflect this joy trumps leaves, even gold ones!

Below are a few of this couple. Fun fact: Reema is half Palestinian, half Mexican, and Khalid is Jordanian. I admired this diverse couple! Loads of Congrats in advance and best wishes for the future!
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Book Review: The Best Eid Ever!

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Author: Asma Mobin Uddin who is a doctor, a mom, and an awesome author! She has also written My Name is Bilal as well as  Party in Ramadan which I previously reviewed here.

Illustrator: Laura Jacobsen, who illustrates emotion warmly!

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Amazon Summary: It’s Eid, and Aneesa should be happy. But her parents are thousands of miles away for the Hajj pilgrimage. To cheer her up, her grandmother gives her a gift of beautiful clothes, one outfit for each of the three days of Eid. At the prayer hall, Aneesa meets two sisters who are dressed in ill-fitting clothes for the holiday. Aneesa discovers that the girls are refugees. Aneesa can’t stop thinking about what Eid must be like for them, and she comes up with a plan to help make it the best Eid holiday ever.

Favorite Quote from the book:  

Through the leaves, Aneesa could see the man’s stern features and firmly set chin coming toward them. Hidden behind thick eyebrows were soft, gentle eyes. In these eyes, Aneesa recognized the same look of tenderness she often saw in her own father’s face.

Aneesa and the man looked at each other for a long moment. Then abruptly, he turned around and walked back to his daughters.

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The above quote goes with this illustration. This page was my favorite page of the book in which Aneesa and her grandmother have delivered a basket of goodies to her new friends and they are afraid that the girls’ father will not accept the basket.

Book Published by: Boyds Mills Press. I reached out to them for a review copy and I noticed my library didn’t have a copy of this so they donated a copy to me to give to the library – Atlanta Fulton library system so hopefully this book will be able to borrow from the Atlanta libraries v.soon!

Niece’s thoughts: So I tried this story on my 8 year old niece who sat and read the whole story happily. She said her favorite parts of the story were the beginning pages where Aneesa’s grandmother gifts Aneesa 3 sets of outfits, one for each day of Eid. IMG_7741

Awards: Skipping Stones Honor Award, Middle East Book Award – Honorable Mention, Storytelling World Resource Honor Book Award, Best Children’s Books of the Year – Bank Street College of Education. Lots of awards for this special story!

Favorite Review:

“After reading this book, children will have a greater appreciation for the Muslim culture and will have no problem realizing that love is an action word.” – Library Media Connection

My thoughts:

This story is officially a new favorite of mine! I brought it yesterdays to my mother’s home to share with my niece who enjoyed it as well as my grandmother who said it was a beautiful book! If I had one word for this story, it would be warmth. Sentences such as these are typical of the author’s tender writing.

“Papa, there’s more food than we need here,” she said, small fingers gently touching his cheek. “Why don’t we share it with the neighbors?”

I love how Asma Mobin-Uddin’s words are full of emotion. Pair that with Jacobsen’s pastel illustrations, and this book is a special one. This is also an Eid story, in which this Eid is often overlooked as Ramadan does not come right before it, so I like that she wrote about a topic that is not often written about, and that she wrote it for a mainstream audience. I also love realistic fiction stories and I feel this story is easy to relate to for children.

To read the author’s interview about this story and why she wrote it, visit this link here. I personally love seeing the thoughts behind a book!

 

The author’s website is here and the illustrator Jacobsen’s site is here.

A few of my favorite pics below – there was no Look Inside! feature on amazon so here’s mine below…



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