Blackout! by Sumayyah Hussein

Blackout! by Sumayyah Hussein (and illustrated by Majd Massijeh) is an early chapter book that talks about the Syrian refugee crisis in a way kids 5–9 can understand. Heartwarming and well-written, this story also touches on empathy, privilege, gratitude, and community. View Post

Zaid and the Gigantic Cloud by Helal Musleh and illustrated by Sabrina Pichardo

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Zaid has been looking forward to his uncle’s annual camping trip and is really disappointed when it gets cancelled. He spends the night feeling bad about missing out, and when he wakes up the next morning, he finds a gray cloud above his head. At school, his bad day keeps getting worse and worse: winter is coming, he has to sit at the back of the bus, and on and on. And the gray cloud grows bigger and bigger.

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Review—Mr. Gamal’s Gratitude Glasses by Asmaa Hussein and illustrated by Nuria Tomas Mayolas

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Mr. Gamal’s students are grumpy. One lost her bouncy ball; another doesn’t like his lunch. Mr. Gamal wishes there was a way to help them be more positive. On the way home from school, he stops at the dollar store, one of his favorite places. Seeing a bin of funky colored glasses, he gets the idea that “gratitude glasses” might help his students see the world in a new light. View Post

Review—Snatched by Asmaa Hussein and illustrated by Sviatoslav Diachyk

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Snatched is a really sweet picture book set in Egypt about a little boy named Omar who makes a mistake, but owns it, and makes amends with his mom’s help. 

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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. View Post