Part of me is tempted to channel my own Cranky Kareem and say how awful this book is, just because I know that the author reads my reviews of her books with bated breath, but alas I cannot lie even in jest as the book is truly adorable. This 40 page book in a new series highlights and starts to fill the gap in children’s Islamic fiction that is so needed. There are a number of books and series for toddlers teaching them to say Bismillah, Assalamualaikum, and MashaAllah and all the praise-filled Islamic expressions, but they are very basic, this book, and hopefully the rest of the series, goes a bit deeper. It shows how to truly mean what you say, how to glorify Allah not just in your words, but in the way you think about things, handle stresses, and carry on. The concepts and amount of text probably will most appeal to mature kindergarteners to early second graders at bedtime or in small groups. I do wish that Cranky Kareem apologized to Happy Hamdi after he relentlessly attacked him at the masjid, but in much the way Oscar the Grouch gets away with being so negative, the characters in the book and the readers alike will have to settle for Kareem finally learning the lesson, in this case, of being grateful to Allah (swt) for everything.
The book starts out with Happy Hamdi waking up in Salamville and praising Allah in appreciation of the fresh air, birds, flowers, and allergy medicine that works. Across town Cranky Kareem is having the opposite kind of morning. The sun is blinding, the birds annoying, coffee bitter, and he’s out of milk for his cereal.
When Kareem finally finds some peace and quiet on a bench at the park he is disturbed by Happy Hamdi and all his happiness. As Hamdi and bounces off to talk to Greedy Gamal and Healthy Hassan, Cranky Kareem gets an idea.
When Happy Hamdi heads to the masjid, Cranky Kareem sticks out his foot to trip him. Hamdi falls and gets a bruise on his nose, but still says Alhumdulillah. He then knocks sticky baklava on him and again he responds with Alhumdulillah, he then dumps a bucket of ice water on Hamdi, and Happy Hamdi says Alhumdulillah once more. When he leaves the masjid, Hamdi’s car is not working and he has to walk home.
Kareem can’t take it anymore and confronts Hamdi. Happy Hamdi explains that he was hungry and didn’t mind the syrup, then the water washed the syrup off and now that he is walking home, his fur is drying. Flabbergasted by Happy Hamdi, Cranky Kareem stomps off.
Convinced that Hamdi’s happiness is an act, Kareem pauses to ponder how his plan failed. Healthy Hassan jogs by and bumps in to him, knocking him off the train track and causing Kareem to twist his ankle, just before a train goes swooshing by.
Realizing that the bump saved his life, Cranky Kareem expresses his appreciation to Allah swt by saying Alhumdulillah.
I love the illustrations and the horizontal layout of the book. The book is cute and I can’t wait to share the rest of the series with my kids. Thank you to Crescent Moon Store for having this, and so many wonderful books available.