At 122 pages this early chapter book with frequent illustrations is a great book to share with 2nd-5th graders. It is has a great message and lesson with lots for children to relate to with regards to life with siblings, getting frustrated, making mistakes and recovering. The lesson is strong, but doesn’t become preachy as the protagonists voice rings true to her age. Mistakes are made by many characters and situations are fleshed out so the reader can understand why things are done. By showing that there isn’t one side to a story, and that knee jerk reactions are common, readers will get that ultimately we are still responsible for how we act, and learning from our transgressions is part of growing up.
Salma is the middle child in a busy family, and very little is in her control. When her frustration over her brother stealing a chocolate bar, causes her to lose her cool, and then she is forced to run errands with her family, homework doesn’t get done in time and she finds her self in detention. Normally a very good student, teachers and other students are shocked that Salma is in trouble. Things don’t improve when her brother steals her carrot cake the next day, and in a plot to get even, Salma ruins her brothers brand new PS4 controller. She also turns a blind eye at school when she sees someone picking on him.
Doing her best to avoid being discovered as the culprit, or being in a position to see her brother being bullied, her guilt starts to get to her. When an ambulance has to come to the school for a kid that got pushed and needs stitches, she realizes she has to make things right, even if that means getting in trouble.
WHY I LIKE IT:
I love that it is so relatable, honestly switch Salma with my middle son Haroon, and the 13 year old boy that doesn’t want to go out with the family, with my 13 year old daughter that doesn’t want to go out and we are looking in a mirror, haha. The family is Muslim and they practice and let the religion shape their view of the world and how to function within it. The girls wear hijab and use the hadith premise that they have to fix a bad deed with a good deed to provide the solution to the mistakes made earlier in the story.
TOOLS FOR LEADING THE DISCUSSION:
I already made my middle child read the book, and because of the length it wouldn’t lend itself to a book club, but I can see teachers having kids read it and then discussing, just like I am doing in my family. It is sweet and well done and a great addition to your bookshelf.