This book is similar to Night of the Moon By Hena Khan as it focuses on a young girl experiencing the month of Ramadan and Eid, through the waxing and waning of the moon. This is an AR book 3.5 and the text is driven by dialogue between nine-year-old Shirin and her Persian American family.
Too young to fast Shirin is feeling left out of the blessed month of Ramadan, her older brother Ali and her bicker until her Grandma encourages her to do “part-time fasts.” Facts about Islam and Ramadan are slightly peppered in to the story, primarily through vocabulary, and the characters do discuss hijab and why Shirin’s mother doesn’t wear it. It is important to note that the tale is told from a Shia perspective that is made clear as it explains how the family prays, touching the prayer stone, and kissing it three times. The illustration here is more peculiar as it shows Shirin praying next to her dad and her brother, mom, and grandma in the row behind.
The pictures show a happy family that most readers or listeners would probably be able to identify with, along with the sibling bickering and excitement felt with the blessed month. Persian culture is represented in the foods and sweets they prepare as a family and the henna Shirin gets on her hands. The family prays together, spends time together and they discuss doing good deeds, not just fasting in Ramadan.
The book is beautifully done, but I think because of the brushing aside of hijab being a cultural practice, not a religious one and the presentation of prayer, I don’t know if I would give the book without discussion to a third grader in a Sunni school to read independently. As for story time, I might simply omit those few sentences, but I’m not sure, it would depend on my audience.
If your children are aware of the differences between Sunni and Shia or you are Shia, this book is wonderful. If your children would be greatly confused or get hung up on a few lines in a 32 page book, then it would be better to hold off.
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