Tag Archives: Muslim children’s books

King for a Day: Children’s Book Review

Standard

photo (18)

Amazon Summary:

Basant is here, with feasts and parties to celebrate the arrival of spring. But what Malik is looking forward to most is doing battle from his rooftop with Falcon, the special kite he has built for speed. Today is Malik’s chance to be the best kite fighter, the king of Basant. In two fierce battles, Malik takes down the kites flown by the bully next door. Then Malik moves on, guiding Falcon into leaps, swirls, and dives, slashing strings and plucking kites from the sky. By the end of the day, Malik has a big pile of captured kites. He is the king! But then the bully reappears, trying to take a kite from a girl in the alley below. With a sudden act of kingly generosity, Malik finds the perfect way to help the girl. This lively, contemporary story introduces readers to a centuries-old festival and the traditional sport of kite fighting, and to a spirited, determined young boy who masters the sport while finding his own way to face and overcome life’s challenges.

  • Age Range: 6 – 10 years
  • Hardcover: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Lee & Low Books (January 7, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1600606598
  • ISBN-13: 978-1600606595

My thoughts: Rukhsana Khan, an award winning author, has written some beautiful books and each story she writes has a distinct voice and unique characters. This story is no different! I requested this review copy from Lee&Low, which is known for publishing some beautiful multicultural books. The illustrations/artwork in this story are phenomenal and I really could see bits of Pakistan in this book, from the dusty alley to the the thatched roofs, to the colorful kites, and billowy shalvar kameezes.

I enjoyed the plot of this story and how Malik is known that day for his great kite-flying skills, but I really enjoyed his sudden act of kindness at the end of the story.

I could relate to this story since I’ve always loved flying kites as a child. My father would take us right outside our house where stood a parking lot and there’s nothing like seeing a regular sized kite become a tiny dancing diamond high, high in the sky. My father also enjoys making kites like Malik in this story.

A unique part of this story that I didn’t stumble upon till the middle is that Malik is in a wheel chair. The story doesn’t mention it – simply portrays it in illustrations. It’s easy to miss, but I believe it makes the story even more powerful.

Z’s thoughts:

She loved the kites and pointing at each one. In this story, they are a work of art! We’ve already read this story a few times!

Favorite Quote:

Suddenly I hear yelling from below. The bully pushes a young girl to the ground. Then he grabs her kite and runs into his house. The girl gets to her feet. Sobbing, she heads down the alley trailing the kite string behind her. Something makes me pick up Goliath and drop it over the side of the roof. It floats, slicing the air side to side, to land close beside her.

The quote above is just a small sample of Rukshana Khan’s crisp writing. Each word is so precise and kid-friendly, and really spins a beautiful tale.

 

Above 2 images obtained from here.

Ilustrations pasted from illustrater Kromer’s site here, and she talks about her art process there as well! And the illustrator being interviewed by the author here – something I found really interesting!

Advertisements

The Jinni on the Roof: Children’s Book Review

Standard

 

 

Amazon Summary: Eight-year-old Raza is too young to fast, but he longs for the delicious parathas the grown-ups eat before dawn. The aroma of the flaky, golden bread tempts him. He cannot wait for the children’s breakfast, but he’ll get into trouble if anyone finds him up this early. Lying in bed, Raza hatches a plan. Will he get away with it? This is a delightful tale about a mischievous boy who learns the true meaning of Ramadan – patience and empathy. Age range 4 -8 years. Link to amazon here!

Story by Natasha Rafi  (Author), Abdul Malik Channa (Illustrator)

My thoughts: I saw this tale advertised on Facebook and wanted to read it! I reached out to author Natasha Rafi and she sent me one over. It’s a heartwarming tale of a child who loves parathas! Most children do love parathas so it’s relatable! I also liked that this story was paperback. A lot of children’s books are hardback, but it ‘s nice to have a good quality paperback. I like paperbacks for traveling purposes so I would pack this with a Noor Kids comic book for Z if we were to travel soon! Also the benefit of paperbacks are that they aren’t as expensive as hardcovers so it’s a great book to add to a child’s Ramadan collection or give as an Eid gift, #RamadanReads!

The story is set in Lahore – I’m from Karachi, so the descriptions of the cook and sehri hit home for me. Rafi included a glossary at the end of the book which is helpful for non-Pakistani people. There is also an Author’s Note on Ramadan which is helpful for non-Muslims and Muslims.

I enjoyed how Rafi describes 8 year old Raza’s escape to the roof and the sounds he hears at Sehri time. It was amusing to read Raza’s thoughts and how he snuck up to the roof. I also enjoyed the illustrations by Abdul Malik Channa, especially of Raza’s nani (or maternal grandmother) as she looks like Z’s paternal great grandmother! Z also enjoyed the little orange cat in the pictures.

On his way he passed through room after room filled with heavy wood furniture, stubbing his toe in the dark more than once.

Z’s thoughts: Z enjoyed the part where Reza goes on the roof and disguises his voice to scare the cook Amina. It was a fun story to use a scary voice to. Z also loves parathas so she enjoyed pointing to the balls of dough. Z also wanted to hear the story of why he wanted parathas and how he got them, over and over again!

Favorite Quote:

I loved how the cook sounded like a paratha!

Amina the cook was heaving her plump, doughy body up the stairs to his grandmother’s room to wake her up. She had a lot of work to do since the whole family had gathered together in Lahore to celebrate Eid-ul-Fitr, the holiday that marks the end of Ramadan.

Shortly after that came the aroma.

 

photo 4 (19)

This was Z’s favorite page because Amina the cook was cooking parathas and in Z’s words she really likes parathas!
photo 2 (23) photo 3 (21) photo 1 (23)

Party in Ramadan: children’s book review

Standard

It’s almost Ramadan so trying to get some more Ramadan children’s book reviews out! On a side note, my friend Aisha blogged about supporting such books and suggested giving children copies of Ramadan books for Eid so please read her plea here.

I’ve been wanting to read this story Party in Ramadan for a while ever since one of my co-teachers showed it to me when I was teaching second grade. I remember getting excited just seeing the cover – a book for people like me!  This book wasn’t available in my library so I reached out to Boyds Mill Press and I was given a review copy.
leena

 

 

 

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 The Best Eid Ever which I will also plan on reviewing.

Illustrator: Laura Jacobsen, who illustrates emotion warmly!

Product Details

  • Age Range: 7 – 9 years
  • Grade Level: 1 – 4
  • Lexile Measure: 610L (What’s this?)
  • Hardcover: 34 pages
  • Publisher: Boyds Mills Press (April 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1590786041
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590786048

Summary: It’s Ramadan and Leena decides to fast every Friday because she’s big now. Only problem is she gets invited to a party on a Friday! Her mom tells her she can fast another day, but Leena wants to fast on Friday because her aunt is coming for Iftar that Friday. Leena tells her mom she’ll be fine, starts out having a great time at the party, but gets tired later and realizes that fasting is hard, especially when all her friends around her are digging into chocolate cake and icy cold lemonade! When her mom finally comes to pick her up, Leena has fallen asleep at the party. At iftar time, her friend’s family comes by to drop off some cake for Leena, and Leena’s family invites them in to enjoy their iftar. True Ramadan spirit!

Awards: Parent’s Choice Awards (2009), 2010 Best Children’s Books of the Year- Bank Street College of Education, Cooperative Children’s Book Center’s Annual Best-of-the-Year list 2010. Lots of awards for this special story!

Notes: The story is on the longer side so it wouldn’t be a good read for toddlers, but is better suited for early elementary school aged children.  However, it can be easily adapted for littler ones, like 4-year-old-Z.

I love how Asma Mobin-Uddin described Leena’s character and the feeling of fasting when no one else around you is fasting, as well as how Leena felt when her mom told Julia’s mom about Leena fasting. Very relatable for a Muslim child fasting here in the US! The illustrations are pastelly soft and warm and I loved how the characters emotions were illustrated.

Favorite Quotes:

In the entryway of Julia’s house, Leena and her mother introduced themselves to Julia’s mother, Mrs. Bernard. Leena’s mother explained that, because Leena was fasting, she would not be eating with the other girls.

“Oh but we’re not having a meal,” Mrs. Bernard said. “We’re just having cake and punch.”

“She can’t eat or drink anything at all during the fast,” said Leena’s mother, “not even water.”

“Not even water?” asked Mrs. Bernard. Her voice seemed very loud to Leena who was embarrassed to think her friends might hear.

On a side note, I also liked Asma Mobin-Uddin’s dedication: “For my children: Yasmine, Hamza, and Yasin. May you always find the strength and courage to live your beautiful faith.”

 

May we all have that strength! Pictures below!

20140622-101804-37084148.jpg 20140622-101811-37091080.jpg 20140622-101801-37081277.jpg

Z loved this page because of the cake!20140622-101815-37095137.jpgZ liked the balloons in this book and the fact that it was about a party. She called it a “yummy book!”

 

Time to Pray: Children’s Book Review

Standard

 

I found another beautiful children’s book! Ramadan is approaching so wanted to review a couple more Ramadan stories soon, but before that, I wanted to share this gem that I found. It wasn’t available in my library but I reached out to Boyds Mill Press and I managed to get a review copy from them so was thrilled to get the book. Nothing beats holding a good old children’s book.

I always love seeing the thoughts behind the book and found an interview with Maha Addasi about the book here and an interview with illustrator Ned Gannon here.

 

My thoughts: I love how Addasi captured the relationship between the grandmother and Yasmin and how her grandmother teaches her about prayer in a unique way from buying a prayer rug, alarm clock, and even making Yasmin a prayer outfit. These little things really helped introduce Yasmin to prayer and its importance and make it fun! Muslims pray 5x a day, so it’s a big part in our lives.

I admired how Maha Addasi really brought prayer down to a child’s level and made this book a smooth read. There can be so many prayer details, but she really brought this story to life and focused on the big picture.

I also love the oil paintings illustrations and how you can see the love between the Yasmin and grandmother.

Another part I liked is how they show the grandmother at home without her hijab and when she goes out she’s wearing hijab as it’s realistic. I don’t like it when the character wears hijab 24-7 at home as that’s not realistic.

Z’s thoughts: Z loved the page where they show the grandmother praying in different positions and liked seeing the little girl and her grandmother at the Masjid. My mother also enjoyed this story too – I thought it was such a beautiful book I brought it to her house the other day!

My Favorite Quotes:

“But Teta,” I said, calling Grandma by my favorite name for her, “we don’t have a mosque near my home. how will I ever know when to pray?”

Grandma’s eyes smiled at me. “We’ll figure a way, habibti,” she said as she placed the rolls on a tray. I like it when Teta calls me habibiti, my love. “In fact, I know how we will spend our morning.”

 

A few details from Amazon:

Link to Look Inside! feature on Amazon.

20140620-140246-50566785.jpg

the book also has Arabic text! how cool is that?20140620-140240-50560253.jpg

20140620-140248-50568292.jpg

 

Ilyas and Duck Search For Allah children’s book review

Standard

This story is creatively written by Omar Khawaja and vibrantly illustrated by Leo Antolini.

The story is about a curious little boy called Ilyas who searches for God’s location. Allah is simply the Arabic name for God so this book is universal for all faiths. The story is a  beautiful, heartwarming story. Z really enjoyed this story. As a parent who is often asked to read the same book over and over, I really enjoyed the illustrations that added a comical touch to the story, especially Duck’s antics.

The Backstory: I got in touch with Omar Khawaja to see his journey to publishing and what I liked about his journey is that he wanted a Muslim children’s book that was appealing and answered his children’s questions, so he went ahead and wrote his story and published it. So many times as authors we can sit and stew on an idea, but what I admire is that he followed his dream through and made it a reality.  You can read about it here. He owns a company called Little Big Kids so for him it made sense to make a product and self-publish it. 

Availability: This book has rave reviews and is available on Amazon here or Little Big Kids and is a heartwarming story. I liked the animals Omar Khawaja chose in this story: the hoopoe was mentioned in the Quran so it was educationally appealing.  As an elementary school teacher, I value stories that have educational aspects to it. As a Sunday School teacher, this story would be a great circle time read. As an aspiring writer, this story was professionally written and beautifully illustrated.

On a side note, when I read this story to Z, I feel the need to add more wording to clarify as I believe Allah is above the 7th heavens as listed here:

Do you feel secure that He, Who is over the heaven (Allah), will not cause the earth to sink with you, then behold it shakes (as in an earthquake)? (Quran 67:16).

But that I know Allah is closer to us than our jugular vein:

“And indeed, We have created man, and we know what (evil) temptation his innermost self may bring to him: And We are nearer to him than (his) jugular vein.”  (Quran 50:16).

Favorite Quote:
Ilyas looked through the binoculars but all he could see were a few puffy clouds and a plane flying by.
“You won’t see Allah with those binoculars,” said the Hoopoe sitting on the branch of a tree nearby.
“What do you mean?” asked Ilyas. But the Hoopoe didn’t answer. It just flew away.
 Preschooler Z’s thoughts and Toddler A’s thoughts:
Z loves this story, especially the rocket page where Ilyas blasts off to space to search for Allah! Baby A loves this story even more than Z, and is always grabbing and hugging this story when we read books. She also loves saying Ilyas’s name, and pointing to him, “Ilyaaas!”
I was looking at the upcoming story of Ilyas and Duck’s Fantastic Festival Eid-ul-Fitr on my computer and Z and A saw the cover of Ilyas and Duck and the cake on my screen, and Z started yelling, “Ilyas is baking!” and A started clapping her hands saying, “Ilyaaaas!” so the cool thing about this character Ilyas  is that he’s relatable. It’s refreshing to see children like a Muslim character, not just Dora!
Can’t wait to read even more books about this relatable character Ilyas from this author Omar Khawaja and illustrator Leo Antolini!

IMG_1248 IMG_1255 IMG_1253 IMG_1252