The Muslims is a graphic novel by Ahmad Philips. Printed in full color, this 8.5 x 11 book has five chapters, each of which focuses on one of the two children in the family: Hani and Huda.
The first chapter was pretty funny: I laughed out loud. In it, Hani does badly on a quiz that he forgot about. He learns his lesson and studies really hard next time, only to discover that he studied the wrong subject.
The final chapter in the volume ends on a cliffhanger, which will be resolved in the next volume.
The illustrations portray the characters’ emotions well, if sometimes a little extremely. But I think that’s just a comic book trope. For example, here, the sister just found out her brother didn’t do well on his quiz.
And in this picture, the family are supposed to be having fun playing a board game—
Suggestions for Improvement
- Usually comic books and graphic novels use different formats for the story’s narration and the characters’ speech—it makes the comics easier to read. For example, a yellow box above or below the comic for the narration from the author and round white bubbles within the comic itself for the characters’ speech. The Muslims is a little harder to read because it doesn’t use these conventions—all of the boxes and bubbles are white, and the speech bubbles are more than one shape. The reading experience was less than smooth as a result of this.
- The messaging in this book is very direct. At one point, the father says to the son, “Hani. Life is like a test. If you don’t do well, then you’ll fail and be punished for it. The purpose of the test is to prepare you for greater tests to come. If you can’t do well now, how can you expect to do well in the future? Mistakes happen, which is why we must learn from them, and try not to repeat them again. So make sure you prepare properly for the next quiz.” Scaring children off of making mistakes by threatening that they’ll be punished for them is not my personal parenting philosophy. That’s not to say that it’s wrong (because who am I to say), but I think a gentler tone would have been more appropriate for children’s literature.
- I also disliked some of the gender portrayals in this. For example, the father reprimands the mother and speaks condescendingly to her, and at one point, the mother explains to her daughter that “It’s a wife’s duty to be beautiful in front of her husband.” It would have nice to see these stereotypical ideas turned on their heads—for example, the husband beautifying himself for his wife.
Thank you to the author for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review.