Review—Mommy’s Khimar by Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow and illustrated by Ebony Glenn

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In Mommy’s Khimar, a powerful new picture book for children 4–8, a little girl plays dress-up in her mom’s scarves, imagining she’s a queen, a superhero, and a mama bird. 

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Her favorite scarf is the yellow one, and when she wears it, it’s a cuddle from her mom. Even when she takes off her khimar, she carries her mother with her. Continue reading

Review—Zak and His Little Lies by J. Samia Mair and Illustrated by Omar Burgess

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Zak is having a great day and can’t wait to go to the skate park with his dad and sister. He just has to do more chore and not tell any lies. Easy, right?

Zak and His Little Lies, written by J. Samia Mair and illustrated by Omar Burgess, is a fun and engaging picture book and the second in a series about Zak. Continue reading

Review—Bismillah Soup by Asmaa Hussein and Illustrated by Amina Khan

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Bismillah Soup is one of my favorite picture books about a Muslim child. It is a delightful story about a boy who uses positivity and hard work to bring his community together and overcome adversity. 

The Story. Hasan, a young Somali boy, knows his mom has a lot of problems. His dad is away for work, and they are down to the last few grains of rice in the bag. An electricity outage means a lot of their food has spoiled. Hasan, eager to help his mom, promises they will have a huge feast that night. She is perplexed, but Hasan runs off with his optimism in tow. He goes to the masjid and explains his problem to Shaykh Omar, who offers a pot and a bag of rice, and assures him, “Say Bismillah, and I’m sure you’ll think of something.”

This is the beginning of a beautiful tale about one boy’s perseverance and faith in Allah. Based on the classic story Stone Soup, it has a Somali flavor: his parents are his Aabo and Hooyo, and there are muufo bread, samboos, and bananas. Continue reading

Review—My Special Angels by Razana Noor and Illustrated by Omar Burgess

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I was so excited to see this book; I think that talking to children about the kiraman katibeen (the angels who write your deeds, good and bad) is a great way to broach the topic of accountability. Unfortunately, while the illustrations (by Omar Burgess) are absolutely stunning, the writing (by Razana Noor) didn’t work for me.

This 20-page picture book is written as a rhyming poem that is broad in subject, and the accompanying illustrations build on the poem to tell a specific story about a little boy. He tells us about the angels on his right and left who write down his good and bad deeds. They are always with him, and they will be for his entire life. We see him doing good and bad deeds. The first person narration is clever; we get a bit of the boy’s interiority as he struggles to do what he knows is right, and children can empathize with that. For example, “To stop the angel feeling blue, / There is still something I can do / Say, ‘I’m sorry,’ and try my best / To not do it again. That’s my test.” Continue reading

Review—Yo Soy Muslim by Mark Gonzales

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Yo Soy Muslim
Written by Mark Gonzales
Illustrated by Mehrdokht Amini
Salaam Reads/Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
2017      32 pages

Yo Soy Muslim is a touching picture book for children 4–8 years old. Written as a letter from a father to his daughter, it explores themes of religion, culture, and language, and describes the world as a place his daughter belongs in.

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The illustrations are by Mehrdokht Amini, who also illustrated Golden Domes and Silver Lanterns, and are absolutely stunning. Continue reading