Bibi’s Blessing by Lela Usama Goldsmith illustrated by Samantha Morazzani

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Bibi’s Blessing by Lela Usama Goldsmith illustrated by Samantha Morazzani

 

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A wonderful lesson packaged in a sweet story about a girl learning to thank God for blessings, especially ones that don’t seem like blessings at all.  The 36 page book is meant for children age 4 and up and with its large 8.5 x 11 glossy full color pages it works well at bedtime and in small groups at story time.

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On the island of Lamu, Mwana lives with Bibi, her grandma who’s livelihood depends on making Mofa bread every day.  It is Mwana’s job to sell the sorghum ground bread in the streets for people to enjoy at tea time.

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One morning a braying donkey frightens Mwana and she trips, spilling all the mofas on the ground.  When she tells her grandma what happened and how they have not made any money for the day, her grandma responds, “Thank God for this blessing.”

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Not believing Bibi, but being too excited to visit a friend, she doesn’t argue.  But then the power goes out and she can’t visit her friend and she gets grumpy. Grandma tells her to “Thank God for this blessing” and explains that sometimes not getting what you want is also a blessing.

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With nothing else to do, Mwana goes off to soak the rice pot, but instead accidently soaks the dusty mofas, to which her grandma again says it is a blessing.  She starts to feel she can do nothing right, and can’t believe there is any blessings in a pot of mushy mufas.

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But, with the power out many shops close and the owner of the donkeys has nothing to feed his animals.  He knocks on his neighbors door and Bibi and Mwana have just the thing.  He pays them for the food and alhumdulillah all is well, so many blessings from God.

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I love that the setting is a place many of us have never heard of and that there is information about Lamu at the end of the book along with a glossary.  The author is Muslim, the characters dress Islamically in the illustrations, and have Muslim names, but there is nothing Islamic specific in the text.

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Some of the sentences are worded awkwardly, for example, “We live in a small island by the Indian Ocean called Lamu.”  You typically say you live “on” an island not “in” it, and islands are in the ocean, not by them.  And some sentences read almost as run ons because of multiple conjunctions and their lack of punctuation.  I don’t love the illustrations.  The faces on many of the pages are really distracting and inconsistent, but the overall story is well done that I’m willing to over look my own critical opinions, and encourage y’all to give the book a try.

 

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