Sneak Peek: Lailah’s Lunchbox!

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“Did you order a book?” my brother asks holding up a package outside my front door.

I love books and often order books online. My mind takes a minute to register. I just ordered Always Mom, Forever Dad by Joanna Rowland and loved it. This time, this book on my doorstep was my book Lailah’s Lunchbox!

It’s a real book! The illustrator Lea Lyon said the same thing when she received her book in the mail too. When you work on a book and are awaiting it for a year, you forget how real the book is, until you hold the book in your hands, feel the glossy pages, smell the scent of fresh-new-book!

I love the way Lea has illustrated Lailah and her emotions. Here is a sneak peek below of Lailah’s Lunchbox! It comes out May 1st…THANK YOU for all those who have ordered it and supported it! I hope you all like it!

 

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getting my niece and mother to sign the back of my book. Others have signed the back of my first copy so now it’s not as yellow anymore!

On a side note, I spoke with my grandmother joking that now I should give away laddoos in luncboxes as a gift to celebrate. The next thing I knew Nana had bought little lunchboxes, filled them with sweet laddoos, and started gifting them to celebrate the publishing of this book! At first, I thought I can’t believe Nana actually did this, but then no, this sounds just like Nana!! Thank You Nana!IMG_9784

 

Author Interview: Razeena Gutta of “Read Little Muslims!”

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Razeena Gutta is the author and founder of Read Little Muslims. I first noticed her a few months ago on Facbeook. I saw her site pop up and instantly clicked ‘Like.’ Her words resonated with me. She’s based in Australia and is passionate about books being produced for Little Muslims from around the world. Her site supports children’s books from other authors and illustrators and she is quick to feature their work proudly on her site, making her site an exciting hub for literature for little Muslims!
She sent me her book We’re Little Muslims all the way from Australia, a book that Z has already said is her favorite book(it has been added to her bedtime books!) and that it reminds her of Sunday School. I enjoyed the child-friendliness of the book and the gentle way it introduced facts about Prophet Muhammad in there.  I can’t wait for more books from her. Interview below!

1. How did you choose the characters Faatimah & Ahmed?

 
I chose the names because I wanted them to be immediately identifiably Muslim and I wanted children with those names and those who know children with those names, as they are so common, to see themselves in a book. I wanted Muslim children to relate to them immediately. They are both slightly older than my two children are currently and as this book started out as just a story for them, I needed them to be characters that they’d look up to.

2. What is it you want children and parents and teachers to get from reading your book? I liked the way you shared just a few facts — my 4 year old Z latched onto them!

I wanted this to be a book children would WANT to read and not one that they’d have to be coaxed to read. Its bright, colourful and shows two children having a bit of fun but learning at the same time. I want to pass this attitude on… It’s important to inculcate a love for learning from young, and I hope that this book can be a tool to help parents and teachers help their little ones to learn.

3. When did you start Read Little Muslims?
I started Read Little Muslims in July 2014. Alhamdulillah it has been a great journey so far!

4. How did you get a good following for them? I noticed you have 6,000 + likes!
Read Little Muslims seemed to attract a lot of interest on Facebook when I first started out – While Facebook has its limitations, it is a great tool to spread the word about what I am trying to do – which is create a forum to find, view and review great books and to support Muslim authors – After Facebook, I started a website where I also sell other great quality books (mainly to my local market in Australia), and joined Instagram and Twitter. Through these outlets I made contact with so many people worldwide, all looking for the same thing – a way to teach our children in a manner that is age-appropriate, has an impact on them and that will create lasting memories, at the same time making things fun and light. Children’s books can do just that – they can be so simple and yet they can have such an impact.
5. What are your goals for all our little Muslims and their world of children’s books?
So through Read Little Muslims, I hope to keep searching for and finding great books to Muslim kids, encourage people to consider writing books if they feel they have a story to tell, and support those who do. On readlittlemuslims.com we also have some free resources which people can download and use for their children, and we hope to keep building that up. Through guest writers, bloggers and author interviews, we also hope that Read Little Muslims becomes a place that people can go to find behind-the-scenes info about books, seek out the latest books for kids and share any great resources they may come across and help us to spread the word. Insha Allah, I also hope to have a 2nd book in the Faatimah and Ahmed series completed soon too!

Releasing Lailah: May 1st…

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PB Story Reviews: 14 Cows for America and more!

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I wrote this a while ago and realized I hadn’t hit ‘Publish!’ Here it is… I love reviewing children’s books! I reached out to Peachtree Publishers, a local company located close to me, and requested the following books to review as they looked like good reads, and they were! 14cowscover

Amazon Summary: 

In June of 2002, a very unusual ceremony begins in a far-flung village in western Kenya. An American diplomat is surrounded by hundreds of Maasai people. A gift is about to be bestowed on the American men, women, and children, and he is there to accept it. The gift is as unsought and unexpected as it is extraordinary. A mere nine months have passed since the September 11 attacks, and hearts are raw. Tears flow freely from American and Maasai as these legendary warriors offer their gift to a grieving people half a world away.  Word of the gift will travel news wires around the globe. Many will be profoundly touched, but for Americans, this selfless gesture will have deeper meaning still. For a heartsick nation, the gift of fourteen cows emerges from the choking dust and darkness as a soft light of hope and friendship.

My thoughts:

This book is a New York Times Bestseller so my interest was piqued! It’s nonfiction which I love and has some beautiful illustrations. Kimeli, a Masai, comes back from America to visit his village and share the story of 9/11. How they react with support and warmth for the American people, people they have never met is pretty astounding. For the Masai people, the cow is everything, and to give 14 cows for America is a powerful symbol indeed! If only we could learn from the Masai people’s generosity!

Favorite Quote:

“Because there is no nation so powerful it cannot be wounded, nor a people so small they cannot offer mighty comfort.”

LookInside! feature on Amazon here.

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Amazon Summary: Babba Zarrah lives in a tiny village in the snow-covered mountains. The children love to visit her. They settle down on her big, old story blanket and listen to her imaginative tales. One day Babba Zarrah notices that Nikolai needs new socks, but she has no yarn. Every question has an answer, Babba Zarrah tells herself, I just have to find it. After the children leave, she unravels part of her story blanket and knits him some nice warm socks.

Not long after that, the postman is surprised to find a scarf wrapped around his mailbag. The grocer mysteriously receives a shawl to keep her warm. On the woodpile outside the school is a pair of mittens for the schoolmaster. Meanwhile, the story blanket is getting smaller and smaller. When the villagers discover Babba Zarrah s secret, they decide to give her a surprise of her own.story-blanket-2

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My thoughts:

This book is a great read aloud story in which children will need to make inferences as Babba Zarrah unravels the story blanket in secret to knit warm items for the people of the village. Not until midway do children start figuring out that something seems v.fishy and that Baba Zarrah is unraveling the story blanket! As the blanket gets smaller and smaller, the children of the story decide they need to get Baba Zarrah a new blanket for more stories. A great story to show the spirit of giving and the magic of stories. The illustrations are also quirky and whimsical.

Favorite Quote:

“Every question has an answer,” said Babba Zarrah. “I just have to think of it.” She poured herself a glass of sweet tea to help her think. Before she had taken three sips, Babba Zarrah knew what to do.

“I will unravel a little of the story blanket and use the wool for Nikolai’s socks!” she said.

I love the way the author wrote, “before she had taken three sips…” V.child friendly language!

Saturdays and Teacakes

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by Lester Laminack (Author), Chris Soentpiet (Illustrator)

Amazon Summary: “When I was nine or ten years old I couldn’t wait for Saturdays. I got up early, dressed, and rolled my bicycle out of the garage.” So begins author Lester Laminack’s poetic memory of the adult who made him feel incredibly special-his grandmother. Every Saturday, the narrator, a young boy, rides his bicycle up and down country roads past farms, a graveyard, and a filling station, until he reaches his beloved Mammaw’s house. She is waiting for him. While she picks tomatoes, he pushes the lawnmower through the dew-wet grass. Afterwards, he always helps her make teacakes from scratch, breaking the eggs and stirring the batter. But the best part, he remembers, is eating the hot, sweet cakes fresh from the oven. Children will understand the special relationship of the narrator and his grandmother. Set in a small town in the Leave It to Beaver days of the mid-sixties, the story evokes a gentler and more innocent time and place. Young readers will almost hear the sounds of bicycle wheels on gravel and the criiick-craaack-criiick of a metal glider in Laminack’s richly detailed prose. Award-winning illustrator Chris Soentpiet’s images beautifully capture the relationship and the place, perfectly depicting the simplicity of an earlier time.

My thoughts:

This story is such a beautiful one. A great read for those who have a special grandmother! The illustrations are gorgeous water colors and the story relates an adventure of the little boy visiting his grandmother’s house. The setting of the story is around the mid-sixties so the illustrations are quaint and fun to see the different in times from then and now.  Today, a bicycle ride all alone to grandma’s house may be considered unsafe for some, but in this time and era, it was what was done, and done with such happiness and peace.

Favorite Amazon Review:

I thought this teacher review was a nice one.

Great to use with middle school students!

By A. Bagnall on December 22, 2009
I used this book as a “jumping off” activity with my 7th grade language arts class. I read the book aloud to them and we discussed what they liked about the book. Then they wrote their own memoirs. It was a huge success!

Favorite Quote:

Every Saturday Mammaw was there, sitting on her old metal glider and waving. She was waving to me. No one else. Just me.

I love how special this little boy feels!

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Booksy

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“If you have a dream, don’t just sit there. Gather courage to believe that you can succeed and leave no stone unturned to make it a reality.”
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I am in an exciting stage of the publishing process. The actual stage where the book is in the final stage before it blooms into a book. At first, just a word document in Times New Roman, Double Spaced, Size 12 Font. Just a manuscript. But brimming with hope and expectation.

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I think the defining moment for me when I saw the book on a PDF file, when illustrator Lea Lyon did her magic and the words were paired with lively watercolor illustrations.

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And then the part where emails are being sent off in a flurry with surreal questions over publishers asking my input on book covers! Dedications are made. An Author Photo is needed.

And now the sit-back-and-wait stage with breathe-a-sigh-of-relief and wait. Wait for printing. Wait for Books. Dream of Books!

My friend Aisha Saeed’s dream (or in common words – book!) came out a couple of weeks ago! Here it is below.

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You can order it on Amazon here! I pre-ordered it on Amazon and it came 2 days late! I had to sit and watch everyone rave about it online while I checked my mailbox! When it finally came, I finished it in a day!

My favorite quote from the book:

“I sink to the floor. A strange emotion passes over me, one I haven’t felt in weeks. Not since my chacha snatched me from the bus. But now? Now it feels like pinpricks in my chest. Something has snapped. For the first time in a long time, I am angry.” – Naila from Aisha Saeed’s Written in the Stars

To read more about her emotional story, click here!