Time to Pray by Maha Addasi, Arabic translation by Nuha Albitar, illustrated by Ned Gannon


Time to Pray by Maha Addasi

On the surface this book presents itself to be fabulous: the large size, the dual language, the length (32 pages), and concept.  But alas, sadly, I was a little let down with the story, the characters, even the pictures.  The details about the characters are vague, the reader doesn’t know where the story takes place, where the girls parents or the rest of her family are (until the end), why she doesn’t know how to pray, and the climax isn’t really much of a surprise.  After reading this post from the author I appreciate that she left the location vague, to as not be burdened by one specific country, and I can see the origins of why the call to prayer from her own childhood is what the story focuses on.  I can also imagine the wealth of information and details that she had to sort through to decide what is needed to carry the story and what would ultimately repel a young reader.  All that in to consideration however, still didn’t connect me to the story of young Yasmin and her Grandma. Not to mention I didn’t have all the author’s justifications or rationale before reading it.


The pages have both English and Arabic text and is written for older children. Despite the initial appearance of being a children’s picture book, it has an AR level of 4.2 and has some Arabic words in the text, an Author’s Note in the back and detail of Prayer Times in the back, as well.


The pictures I want to say are beautiful, but for some reason I didn’t love them.  I am no art critic and they are detailed and large and I should probably ask a child, but here is one for you to decide your thoughts about them on your own.


Additionally I’m not sure if she is washing her foot her, as part of Wudu, the obligatory cleansing before prayer, which in this case, would be portrayed erroneously, or if she is drying her foot, either way Grandma looks sad to me and not content or excited to prostrate to her creator.

All is not lost though in this book about a girl learning about prayer with her grandma and being surprised by a prayer outfit. prayer rug, and Athan clock when she gets home and finds while unpacking.  But some of the best parts are subtle and might not be gleamed by unassisted readers.  For example how Grandma dresses at home versus when she is out, that because Yasmin is young she is not reprimanded for not praying, or how patient and loving the Grandma is in a slower paced environment.  Overall, the book is unique in that it gives an introduction to Muslim’s prayers to both Muslim and non Muslim readers alike, but for such potential I felt it fell short of being fabulous.

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