I’m thrilled to review Meet Yasmin!, which as far as I know, is the first early reader series to feature a Muslim character! For anyone who doesn’t know, early readers are those thin half-page-sized books that children graduate to after picture books and typically read on their own. I’d like to shout a welcome to Yasmin from the rooftops, and then go spread copies of these wonderful books everywhere.
Meet Yasmin! is actually a bind-up of the following four stories, which are also sold as separate books. In each book, Yasmin faces a difficulty that she has to overcome.
Yasmin the Explorer – Yasmin feels like a brave explorer after she draws a map, but when she gets lost while exploring the farmer’s market with her mom, she decides that next time she goes exploring, she’ll take her map and her mom.
Yasmin the Painter – Yasmin is nervous about an art contest at school, and she makes quite a mess. But the mess gives her an idea, and she does better than she anticipated.
Yasmin the Builder – Yasmin has trouble coming up with an idea for a class project. What structure can she add to her classmates’ city? An idea strikes, not for a building, but for something that will bring everyone together.
Yasmin the Fashionista – When Yasmin and Nani are playing with mama’s satin kameezes, they accidentally rip one. They rush to fix it before mama gets home, and put on a fashion show in the process.
The cultural and religious references are placed unobtrusively in the background. Yasmin is a Pakistani American girl who, like all other American girls, gets lost at the farmer’s market and wins an art contest at school. The fact that her mom grabs her purse and her hijab when she’s getting ready to leave the house and that her dad calls her jaan are just normal parts of Yasmin’s life and a normal part of the fabric of American life.
The overarching themes are finding inspiration, turning scrapes around, and supporting others and being supported by others. Yasmin is such a relatable second-grader. It is really heart-warming to see Yasmin scared, nervous, frustrated, and worried, and to watch her overcome her troubles, sometimes through her own ingenuity and perseverance and sometimes with her family’s help.
The illustrations are really fun. Here are my favorites:
In the first, Yasmin is worried about tearing her mother’s kameez, but her Nani (looking delightfully conspiratorial) reassures her. And in the second, at their fashion show, Yasmin is fierce—a wonderful representation of a Muslim character.
I highly recommend these books. The reading level is appropriate for five- to eight-year-olds, but these are fun stories that everyone can enjoy.
Thank you to NetGalley and Capstone for the eARC.