Not all books need to teach something, but when the book would lend it self so easily to dropping a fact or two, it seems like it would take it. In 40 pages, preschoolers are taken on a highly imaginative journey to the Ka’ba, yet no information about the history of the Ka’ba, or any mention of Umrah or Hajj is shared, not even in passing.
Faris wants to go to the Ka’ba but it is nearly his bedtime, so he has to act fast. He asks his mom what he needs to wear, obviously knowing special clothes are required, but his mom prefaces the answer of white sheets as being “odd” and then adds that you need sandals. For a book that wants to normalize Islam for children, I don’t understand why the mom would say that ihram is odd, why the word ihram isn’t used, why it doesn’t even specify the number of white pieces of unstitched cloths and why sandals would be included.
Faris then finds two white sheets, but the illustration shows him getting towels out of the bathroom (possibly showing his imagination, but kids will just think it is an error, mine did), packing some food and jumping on his rocking horse to head off for the Ka’ba.
Faris finds himself among the stars without a map and starts to worry that he won’t find his way. He then sees a flock of birds and wonders how they know where to go. The book however, doesn’t answer how birds know, and just has him land and find someone to ask.
Luckily Faris finds a camel to ask, and luckily he is a nice camel and he shows Faris to the Ka’ba. Faris is surprised at how big it is and then supposes that Allah’s house has to be. But he asks it as a question, which makes it a little off grammatically. The camel points out that Allah swt is above and that the Ka’ba is for people to visit. Faris asks what is supposed to be done at the Ka’ba and the camel answers, “We circle the Ka’ba, pray to Allah, and thank Him.” This seems like a great place to sneak in some facts about who built the Ka’ba and why or mention Hajj or Umrah, it seems so misguided to just say we circle it.
Faris makes some prayers that he can return for real one day with his parents before he finds a place to eat his snack and share his food with his camel. It is nice that he shares with his new friend, but odd that when they part Faris asks him his name and he says he doesn’t have one. Maybe give him a name, and detail its meaning or don’t include the exchange at all. I seriously don’t understand the purpose of the exchange.
Faris makes is home with a crash and his mom tidies him up and they say InshaAllah that Faris’ prayer inshaAllah will come to fruition.
The book has a great premise of imagination and tying in the Ka’ba, but truly there is no information about Islam or the Ka’ba or even Allah swt, it gives a mood of worship, but that is about it. I get that it is for little kids and the book is supposed to be whimsical and light, but sneak in some facts, kids can handle it.
As for the illustrations, they are just ok. They would have benefitted from being a little smoother and not looking home-done, but there is nothing terribly wrong with them aside from the towel and sheet imagery. The glossary cover and large font inside is age appropriate, some pages are a bit text heavy, but overall sufficient.