Sana’s Startling Sneeze by Sumaiya Noori illustrated by Ridwaan Naik


Sana's Startling Sneeze

I got this book at the same time as Sajaad is Sick, and thought they would go together nicely.  They did, Alhumdulillah, but I was honestly a little underwhelmed by this book.

For the most part. the pictures are detailed and fun, but they have the appearance of being done with either crayon or colored pencils and don’t pop off the page and grab the reader’s attention.  If they were a little brighter and bolder, it would definitely help the overall story, especially since the illustrator is clearly talented.

The story itself is clever and funny, but kind of unresolved at the end.  Once the Pre-k 3 through KG students were done laughing, they wanted to know why her sneeze was tiny.  Was it because she put both hands over her mouth or because it was just a little sneeze? They got a little annoyed that I didn’t know the answer and that there was no moral, or lesson, or conclusion.  I think after so many sneezes and so much repetition they were a bit unsettled that she would again resume her out of control startling sneezes, with no more hope of containing them.

Something else that struck me as being odd about the book is that the main character and her family are visibly Muslim in a diverse environment, yet Sana never says “Alhumdulillah” and her family never says “yarhamukum Allah” following her sneezes.  I added it in when I read it aloud, since that is basic Islamic etiquette, but a few of the Kindergartner’s in the first row caught on that it was missing and wanted to know why.  Again I had no answer.

A layout criticism I have of the book is the inside margin. It is too small and when reading aloud to a group, I could not see the last word of the line without moving my head or the book, and thus blocking the students from seeing the illustrations.  The font and text and overall book size is adequate, but the first few readings, until I practically memorized the book, were a little cumbersome.


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