Quite possibly there is nothing Islamic about this book, but the main character’s name, Samira, is traditionally an Islamic name and thus it caught my attention. I also think one could argue that the mom in one of the pictures (see picture below) is possibly wearing a hijab. So, probably I shouldn’t include it on the blog, but the book is so disturbingly creepy, in a fantastical way, that I thought, why not.
Samira learns that everyone has a skeleton and bones one day at school, and it frightens her. She starts seeing everyone’s skulls instead of their outward body parts and she refuses to accept that she has such morbid parts or that her friend Frida does too. Knowing that she is chewing with teeth, skeleton parts poking through, at lunch is too much and she can’t even be near Frida. When she gets home she tells her mom she wants to be free of her skeleton, and her mom agrees. Yes, agrees! They resolve the tooth fairy will be delighted to get a whole skeleton, not just a few teeth. So the mom, gets some tools and preps a table to perform the surgery required to remove her skeleton. Luckily Samira runs for it and finds Frida, and alas the girls accept that they have skeletons and use humor to diffuse the fears they have of what lurks beneath their skin. That is of course until the next day at school comes, and they learn that they have muscles, just like steak.
The imagination of the girls is quite remarkable. I love that it starts with a lesson and that information about skeletons and animals, such as jelly fish that don’t have them exist, is sprinkled through out. I also like the approach, its weird, but in a delightfully fun way. It also lends itself well to a discussion of how we are more alike than different. Our outward appearance doesn’t define us when we are all made up of bones and muscles. The story doesn’t address it, but some kids might infer it or connect the dots with a little prodding.
The book is not AR, but I think most 5 year olds and up can read it or follow along giggling all the way through. It probably isn’t for every child, but those with a darker sense of humor will enjoy all 34 pages.
I appreciate your blog and the light you shed on Islamic titles. I wonder if Clarion Publishing has contacted you about Josanne La Valley’s novels (The Vine Basket, a middle grade, and the ya novel Factory Girl) set in the Uyghur Muslim community in northwest China. They’re beautifully written novels that shed light on a community that few people are familiar with. Unfortunately, Josanne died last month and will not be able to promote FACTORY GIRL (her YA novel published in January). She was alive to see it published and to read its very good reviews. She followed your blog and would have loved to read your reaction to her books.
If Clarion hasn’t sent you copies for review, I’d like to. You can reach me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
My condolences, I have not read the books nor been contacted by Clarion. Thank you for your generous offer, good books with Muslim characters are hard to come by, thank you. I will email you.