The Hijab Boutique by Michelle Khan


The Hijab Boutique

I was really hoping this book would help out the sparsely populated early chapter book section.  And it should, at just 52 pages with beautiful full page pencil style drawings, it just somehow seemed confused instead.  The content is much more young adult in story line, but because of the short length, the characters seem flat and underdeveloped.  My fourth grader read it in less than a half an hour. Yet, I don’t think a 1st or 2nd grader would get much out of the book.  I don’t know what kind of editing process the Islamic Foundation puts its books through, but back when I was a teacher, I would have told the student they have a wonderful, wonderful rough draft with so much potential, they just need to flesh it out and add more detail so the reader connects with the characters. The back of the  book suggests the book for ages 10 and up and content wise that is fine, but it also has a list price of $7.95 and for something that can be read in less than a half an hour, it seems a little steep. If it didn’t have so much potential, perhaps I wouldn’t be so bothered, I just feel like if she stretched it out to being 200 pages, it could be so powerful.

Farah is a fifth grader at an all girls art school.  She has a best friend, who’s mom is a soap opera star, but some popular girls still make  her nervous.  When her Social Studies teacher assigns the girls to bring in something representing her mother, she can’t find anything to share about her mother that she doesn’t think is boring.  Farah’s father passed away two years prior and with money tight, Farah’s mom is opening up a Hijab Boutique.  No real details are given about her family life with her father or the impact his death had on her, which is unfortunate.  The story discusses why the mom started wearing hijab and why it is important, but makes it seem like Farah knows so little about her mother.  Again a hole that if explored would make the book that much more interesting. Not to mention that it could prod young girls to talk to their own mothers about such things.  To no one’s surprise Farah brings in some hijabs to represent her mother and Alhumdulillah the book ends on a positive note with little fanfare, catharsis or drama.

Farah and her mom are practicing Muslims who are an active part of their western community.  It would seem Farah is the only Muslim in her school and it doesn’t seem to be an issue.  They are all upper class and a bit snobbish, but there are no flags.  If your library has the book, reading it is by no means a waste of time.  I don’t know that you’d read it more than once if you purchased it, but 4th through 6th graders might enjoy the short read, and be inspired by fashionably fabulous hijabs while furthering their understanding about why Muslimah’s are required to cover.



2 responses »

  1. Have you seen Curious George Celebrates Ramadan (not sure of 3rd word in title)? First time I’ve seen Muslim holidays or good Muslim characters in a mainstream children’s publication.

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