Nanni’s Hijab, a picture book by Khadijah Abdul-Haqq and illustrated by Vitchapol Taerattanachai, is a heartwarming and empowering book about a strong female character who uses her intelligence and empathy to win over a bully with love.
Everyone loves Nanni’s colorful hijabs. Everyone except Leslie, the new girl at school, who tells Nanni she hates her “stupid he-jobs,” spills milk on her, and pulls her hijab off one day on the playground.
Nanni is a great character—strong and kind. In a moment of heat, she remembers her mom’s advice, “Don’t get angry, get smart.” When her mom offers to get involved, Nanni declines. She spends time thinking about a good solution, and she asks Allah for help. The solution she comes up with (gifting Leslie a hijab) is brilliant! It breaks down the bully to a person in need of love and offers a solution—kindness.
Here is some of what I loved:
- The supportive (and probably non-Muslim) teacher (She says, “Your hijabs are as regal as a princess’s crown and are as vivid as a rainbow.” This had me chuckling and thinking that perhaps the class was learning about similes.)
- That this book doesn’t shy away from big emotions. It shows Nanni feeling really upset in one of my favorite illustrations (see below).
Here is some of what I found less successful:
- The writing of individual sentences is not quite there for me. Because picture books are read aloud (repeatedly) and because there are so few sentences, they need to be really polished. This book could have benefited from another round of editing to sort out some awkwardness and some redundancy.
- The layout of the text is awkward, with the text spreading all the way across the page. This is a minor detail, but I found it sometimes annoying to read.
The watercolor illustrations were hit-or-miss for me. I found some of them really evocative and others sort of messy. Here are some of my favorites: