I was really excited for this book, I even contacted Scholastic USA and the author to see how we could get it here in America, but once I received my copy from the UK, I was disappointed. It offers nothing new to the available Eid titles aside from the pretty illustrations. It is a rather forgettable story, with nothing more than surface level growth, predictable emotion, and a formulaic retelling of a basic Eid day. Meant for preschoolers (3-4 year olds) the story will suffice as an introduction to Eid and reinforce the importance of sharing with others, but anyone older will find the story lacking unfortunately, and question why they didn’t go for Eid salat, if the cousin was even upset about not getting to ride Safa’s new bike, if the neighbors are poor and needy, and if they have gifts for neighbors or are just giving out random leftovers. Five years ago when reasonably priced brother sister duo books celebrating Eid were popping up everywhere, this book would have warranted excitement of representation and Eid joy, but the quality has elevated and while there might not be anything “wrong” with the book, it still feels like it sadly falls short.
Safa and her parents see the new moon and that means it is Eid. She is so excited as her mom puts henna on her like every year, and her dad brings out the box of decorations. At night she is anticipating presents, gifts, new clothes and food that she can hardly sleep.
The next morning she comes down in new clothes, prays, asks Allah for a new doll, a colouring pencil set and a bicycle. Guests come over, even Alissa her cousin. She opens her presents revealing she got everything she asked for. Alissa calls after Safa, but Safa doesn’t want to share, she’s been waiting for this bike forever. Since sharing is the point of the story, it is worth noting that Alissa in the text shouts after her and in the illustration is shown to be calling out, there is no reinforcement that Alissa even wants to ride the bike. I suppose I’m glad that Safa feels it, and regrets it later, but it is subtle and I don’t know that a 4 year old will even register that, that is implied.
Mom then calls to Safa while carrying two huge purple bags to come with her to share joy and food with those in need. Safa adds some of the treats she has received in to the big purple bags and they hand the items out to their neighbors. I love that they are visiting their neighbors and it brings the giver and receiver joy, but the set-up is that neighbors and those in need are one in the same, and I think that is conflating two different things.
Some neighbors get small gifts, one a potted plant, another homemade looking food, and then there is one bag left, somehow the purple huge garbage bag sized bags have shrunk to being a shopping bag size and the next recipient is a surprise: grandparents.
The mom and daughter join the grandparents for desi cultural foods of samosas, kebabs, biryani. Dad does not join them, and I’m not sure why the grandparents didn’t come to the party at Safa’s house? I also wondered if the party at the house was still happening, because once Safa realizes she enjoyed sharing, her parents and Alissa are seen outdoors, with the little girls on bikes and Alissa asking her cousin where she went.
There is a two page spread glossary at the end which defines words that are not in the text, but is informative. It mixes “cultural” words such as Allah Hafiz being defined as being a common way among Muslims to say goodbye, which technically isn’t wrong, but it is an Urdu word and only used by Desis. It isn’t in the story, so it seems off to me as well.
The illustrations are the highlight in the book. They are vibrant, expressive and engaging. The mom seems to have a dupatta on her head, it might pass for hijab, but she has wavy tendrils showing on the side, even the grandma shows much of the top of her hair. Neither the father in the story or grandfather have beards.