This 40 page month-by-month celebration of Arab culture, both old an new, will be a source of pride and smiles for readers of all ages. The author is an Arab American of Lebanese decent and the illustrator was born in Lebanon. The book shows Muslim’s teaching others about Ramadan, looking up hijabi fashions, as well as making cookies at Easter and dressing in sleeveless shirts. To be Arab is not a monolith and this book seems to convey that culture and tradition and love are all it takes to be included in the broad diverse identity of being Arab.
January starts with finding stars with Arabic names, and February recalls how a comic about Martin Luther King, Jr. helped inspire the Arab Spring. The kids in turn make a comic to teach others about Ramadan. March is a chuckle about Arab time, and April is making maamoul with Sitti for Easter. May is learning to write Arabic and June for gathering grape leaves to make warak enab. July is picnics that remind mama of Morocco and making perfume with familiar smells and memories.
August is playing the doumbek with Dad who is in an Arab band. September is researching hijab costumes to wear to comic con. Dressing up like Umm Kulthum wins first prize. October is pomegranate time, which means the kids jump in the tub to eat and enjoy the messy fruit. Chilly November air requires the Palestinian keffiyeh to keep memories warm, and December when friends are busy over winter break it is time for sleep-overs and henna parties.
I like that dressing up is not for Halloween and that while some examples are country specific, many are general. The book specifically mentions a few Arab countries, but the electronic arc did not include all the supplemental information that the published hardback book will contain. I can’t wait to check it out and gift to my Arab friends and their children.
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