Bismillah Little Leyla by Qura Abid illustrated by Mona Ismail

Bismillah Little Leyla by Qura Abid illustrated by Mona Ismail


I thought this book might be leveled- reader type based on the binding and page numbers (26), but it reads more like a picture book with its repetitive refrain, and honestly the awkward small size (5×8) makes it feel like a pamphlet.  So, I’m not sure who it is trying to appeal to, and unfortunately is a great example of how the outward presentation killed an otherwise decent book.  I also don’t know who is to blame for the final physical product, the author, the publisher, the printer? But at a $10 price point, I’m not sure anyone who purchases this book is going to be happy with the size and binding, and the book will simply get lost on a book shelf, and be forgotten.


The premise of the book is good.  Rather than just tell kids to say Bismillah before they do anything, Little Leyla actually does it in the course of a morning.  I like that it shows that we say Bismillah before we do all types of things, not just before we eat or get in a car, but even when we swing and play a game or put on a jacket.


The climax of the book is Leyla saying bismillah, shooting a goal and scoring against her dad.  The lesson being that Allah is always there to help us.


I’ve read the book a dozen times, to myself and aloud, and I think the book has a natural cadence based on the diction and sentence length, and I think it wants to rhyme.  Additionally, after each example and on nearly every page, the refrain at the end of the paragraph is (nearly) the same:  “What must she say? Leyla knows! Do you? It’s Bismillah!”  The repetition makes it memorable, but with the sing song beat and on and off, often forced, rhyme, I find myself tripping over the words a lot, and I cant quite put my finger on why.  If the book were larger, and I were using it for a preschool story time, I would just have to practice it a few times, but there is no way, sadly,  you could read this book to a group if you want them to see the pictures.


The illustrations might be ok, it might also be a presentation thing that makes them look washed out OR maybe that is how they are, I’m not sure. The detail and expressions are there, they just kinda seem faded.   Concept wise I like that they show the dad cooking and Mom playing soccer. The mom wears hijab she the family seems warm and happy.


Thanks again to for the excellent customer service and selection.




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