Another sports book starring a smart girl with a supportive father, seems like a trend, and I like it. The book is relatable to ages 5 and up whether they play basketball or not, and will remind even slightly older children how “insha’Allah” really works. It features a girl, but boys will gain a lot from the book as the lessons are for us all.
Basirah loves basketball and with supportive teammates and mad skills, she should be a shoo-in for team captain. But when her dad reminds her that if it hasn’t happened yet she needs to say insha’Allah, she realizes the power of leaving things to God.
Testing out her new knowledge of asking God to make happen things she really, really wants, over many of the 30 pages in the story, makes the climax that much stronger and her dad’s wisdom that much more memorable. I’m trying not to spoil the story, even though it is a children’s picture book, it isn’t without a bit of tension and resolution that really makes the book shine.
This book can be taken at face value with a little bit of a lesson for little ones, or a lot deeper for more reflective readers. Understanding that things we ask God for often come or don’t come to test us, is a lesson we all need. I hope if read with an adult, the adult will also push the listener to consider why we should do things in the first place, what are intentions are, as Basirah leaves the door open for that discussion at the end, but doesn’t quite articulate it for independent readers.
I love that at home Basirah is not covered, but is when she is out. I love that her school is diverse with students of different colors and head coverings and that her coach is female and a muhajaba as well. I love that Basirah and her father seem incredibly close, and that she listens to him, and he to her, before lessons are espoused and course of action plotted. The book is not preachy, but lessons are there and the reader will get “it” right along with Basirah allowing her strength to radiate off the page and inshaAllah empower the reader as well.
I find it interesting that the book doesn’t mention Allah and uses the word God, given that the phrase the book focuses around is insha’Allah. I would imagine the intended audience is Muslim, but there is not specific mention of Islam. It would work for non Muslims, but I think they would wonder why she says such a phrase and where it comes from.
Basirah is presumably in middle school, as she has multiple classes and can bake a cake independently, her age seems a bit fluid, but many 11-14 year olds do tend to be independent in some areas and rather clueless in others, so while I did notice that she seems very naive in knowing what insha’Allah means and how it works in some parts of the story and very mature, and hijab wearing, and willing to grow from her situation in others, I’ve concluded it is plausible.
The book is 8.5 x 11 vertical, well bound, shiny glossy full color pages with clear and easily readable font. The sentence length and amount of text on the page is not too overwhelming and the spacing keeps it inviting for new fluent readers.
I love that Ruqaya’s Bookshelf (https://ruqayasbookshelf.com/) has new books out, three to be exact. Whether the stories work or don’t work for you, I think their presentation and quality, give the books a longevity and find themselves being pulled out for different kids, at different times, when different lessons are needed. They are well packaged in terms of illustrations and colors and size for the most part, and when I hear they are publishing new stories, I find myself ordering them without even reading the content synopsis. Thank you for helping get these stories out, may Allah swt reward you!