This sweet 26 page story addresses a universal feeling with Islamic flavor. The Black Muslim family in the illustrations is adorable, the sprinkling in of Islamic terms is lovely, and the concept of dad working unseen for the benefit of his child is touching, (I hope a Mom book is forthcoming). The text size changing for no reason bothered me though, as did some of the wordiness and possible contradictions. Ultimately the story will resonate with many children and mirror a common feeling that is not often addressed for young children, and I’m glad I have it on my bookshelf.
The book starts with Abdullah waking up for class and noticing his clothes laid out on his bed, and his dad with a dirty shirt rushing off to work. He misses his dad and muses that his dad is “always working,” As he eats his favorite strawberry and chocolate pancakes. He then jumps on his bike with his clean cleats and heads off to Sunday class with his friend Khalid.
In class they learn about “JazakhAllah Khair,” and homework is to make a card for a person who deserves our thanks. When Abdullah’s mom, not dad, picks him up he decides to make a card for his mom who has woken him up, set out his clothes, made him breakfast and picked him up for class.
At dinner however, when he discusses class with his mom and the homework the mualimah has assigned, Abdullah’s mom shares with him all that his dad has done and Abdullah reconsiders why his dad is “always working.”
I don’t quite get why the next night when dad is cooking the food is burned, nor am I sure why it said Arabic school, when it seems it is Islamic school, or why he rode his bike to class but then his mom picks him up. I do like that in the praising of the dad, the mom is not diminished, but rather both are elevated. An important book, but as I often say, I just wish it was edited better, or more. It has a lot of potential, the story idea is great, but the writing isn’t polished and it makes it hard to share repeatedly or with a wider audience because of it.