This is another holiday book in the Nadia and Nadir series for early readers, this one focusing on Eid al Fitr, but also celebrating Muslim American athletes Ibtijaj Muhammad and Muhammad Ali, sadqa, and the love of grandparents. The 32 page book with four chapters shows Desi American siblings enjoying both their Pakistani and American cultures while consistently embodying their Islamic faith. They pray salat, wear hijab, discuss sadqa, and say Salam and Eid Mubarak. I am not sure why they pray Eid prayers at home, and not in a community congregation, no it is not a Covid set book, they then go to the mall, but the pride in their faith, culture, and family is enjoyable. Early readers will enjoy the colorful pages, large illustrations, and relatable story situations.
The book starts with the siblings hearing laughing downstairs, then seeing suitcases, and being surprised by their Nani and Nana coming from Pakistan to surprise them on Eid. The family eats paratha and chai together before praying and making duas.
After presents are passed out, the kids receive eidee and are off to the mall to pick out a toy. Nadia sees an Ibtihaj doll, and Nadir points out that she is wearing a hijab just like his sister. Nadia recognizes her and shares some facts since she has read her books. Nadir wonders if Ibtihaj knows it is Eid and the family reassures him that Muslims everywhere in the world are celebrating.
When it is Nadir’s turn to choose what to buy, he picks some boxing equipment with marketing images by Muhammad Ali. Nana fills him in on the activism and accomplishments of Ali and how impressive his fearlessness really was. When the change is given after paying, the kids and their grandparents discuss sadqa, charity, and this gives Nadia an idea.
The book concludes with a glossary of new words and information about the illustrator and author. You can purchase your copy at all major retails such as here at Amazon, or you can support small business owners like Crescent Moon store and purchase your here.
This 32 page early reader is part of the Nadia and Nadir series that can be read and purchased as a standalone. It shows the sibling duo problem solving, working together, sharing, and getting excited for Ramadan. With the theme of cookies, the book could work as a read aloud in a small group with an activity of making cookies following it, but the small leveled reader size and text volume would make it a hard selection for larger groups. The setting is Ramadan, the female characters wear hijab (even in the home with just family), but there is not a lot of religious beliefs or practices included in the story. It does detail the lunar calendar and phases of the moon, but thankfully does a decent job of inserting that knowledge from Nadia who has learned about the moon in science class. There are a few salams, and it mentions that Nadir isn’t fasting because he is young, Nadia gets up for their predawn meal, and snuggles back in to bed after saying her prayers. There is articulation that Ramadan is a month for Muslims and a time to share blessings when the kids share their cookies with the neighbors. There is a handful of Urdu words sprinkled in and a glossary at the end. The book shows a family’s traditions and radiates joy, it is a solid addition to Muslim and non Muslim book shelves in showing Ramadan cookie making and excitement in action, but would not inform a lot about the religious aspects, uniqueness, or basic practices about the month.
Nadia and Nadir start the book with their binoculars around their necks waiting for Abu to arrive home from work, Ammi is already on the roof and they are determined to spot the Ramadan moon. The kids are all sorts of confused where to even look in the vast night sky, but once Abu helps them out they find it and declare, “Chand Mubarak.”
Nadir wants to know why it isn’t a full moon, and his older sister Nadia explains the cycles, they are then off to make cookies as per their families Ramadan tradition. The dough is ready, the star cookie cutter has been found, but where is the moon cookie cutter? Nadia has an idea, and sure enough her problem solving skills allow crescent moons to be made.
The next morning Nadia has her predawn meal of cookies and milk and when Nadir wakes up he has the same. The kids pack up bags of cookies with their Ammi to pass to neighbors and friends, with only one left who will get it Nadia or Nadir?
The books are available widely at places such as Amazon but for the same price I hope you will support a small Muslim owned bookstore and purchase your copy at Crescent Moon, if you use my initials ISL (Islamic School Librarian) at checkout you will save 10%, link:
This is not a typical review from me, more of my thoughts on Ms. Marvel books inclusion of Islam. Kamala Khan as Ms. Marvel has been around for a while now, and while I cannot comment on the show, I never watched it, I do appreciate that her faith is still a major part of her character building in books, even in young children’s 2022 and 2023 books about her. I have some concerns with her choices sure, but that a Little Gold Book and a leveled reader feature Islam as part of her identity, does still make me smile.
Little Golden Book: On the very first page it establishes her Pakistani American background before it explains her super powers and her connection her to Carol Danvers, Captain Marvel. It then shows Kamala at the masjid making duas and showing her family with text that attributes her Muslim religion for being the foundation of how she learned how to be a good hero and good person. Nakia is consistently across different platforms depicted as wearing hijab, and this children’s book is no different. The book at the end does conflate her culture with her religion, with the use of the word heritage, but that Islam is positively highlighted in this 24 page children’s book is great representation.
Super Readers Level 3: This meet book introduces 16 characters in the Ms. Marvel series and each two page spread tells about them. On the page about Kamala’s family, her mom is not in hijab, but her brother is wearing a kufi/topi and their names are shared: Aamir, Yusuf and Muneeba. It also shares that her parents are from Karachi, Pakistan. It isn’t until Nakia is introduced on page 26 (of 48) that it articulates that Ms. Marvel is Muslim. “Kamala met Nakia in Kindergarten. Nakia is a practicing Muslim, just like Kamala.” The next page shows her hugging her other best friend, a boy named Bruno, so that is a little hard to accept, and it states that the super dog Lockjaw is her pet. The term Muslim also appears in the glossary.
I found both books at my local library and definitely liked the Little Golden Book representation more, but was happy to see that her religion was not watered down or shied away from for younger readers in both.
This 32 page early reader is absolutely adorable with jumping in the leaves, sibling love, imaginary unicorns and dragons, yummy food, Pakistani culture and delightful illustrations. Books in this genre aren’t particularly known for their story telling, but with chapter breaks and relatable experiences I was absolutely pulled in to Nadia and Nadir’s world and family. My seven year old loved that he could read it independently and was delighted to see himself so reflected in the text, infact I have given in and we will be having chicken tikka and raita for dinner tomorrow, but I’m not raking the leaves, haha.
Siblings Nadia and Nadir are woken up by there mother with the promise of a surprise. The hints are crunchy and colorful, and when the kids realize it isn’t a giant bowl of cereal outside, they are excited to jump into the giant pile of leaves their abu has raked up in the yard. The kids dive and swim and imagine themselves to be dinosaurs and unicorns as their dad grills chicken tikka and their mom watches on shelling walnuts.
The kids bump heads and decide to play something a little safer by making faces with the leaves, branches, walnut shells, and flowers. They create a family portrait and then it is time to eat lunch and drink chai.
WHY I LIKE IT:
I love that it is a very recognizable family: the women are wearing hijab, urdu words are sprinkled in, and Pakistani foods are being eaten, there is no othering, all kids will enjoy the story, and Muslim and desi Muslims specifically will feel seen.
I love that there is imagination and dad cooking and hanging out in a chill environment. There is a glossary at the back, but for this demographic I actually really like it. It allows for the independent reader to use a book tool to understand a word. I also like that illustrations of the words flutter around the cartoon author and illustrator blurbs.
There are details about the trees dropping the leaves as well as why the leaves are changing color.
TOOLS FOR LEADING THE DISCUSSION:
Too young for a book club selection, but ideal to have on the shelves of a classroom library, school library, or home library.
Well done alhumdulillah. Paperback and library bound additions available here. The book is part of a series, but can be purchased individually or as a set. I plan to review each of the six books over the next few months.
Oh how I love when a popular series includes diverse characters, and more specifically Muslims, I’m biased that way. In this Katie Woo early reader for KG-2nd grade, a trip to the zoo and wondering how animals clean their teeth ties in to Katie’s trip to have her teeth cleaned by Ms. Malek, a hijab wearing dental hygienist, and having her teeth checked by dentist, Dr. Ali. Spread over three chapters, the 5×9, 32 page book familiarizes kids with what happens in a dental check-up and shares some silly facts about animals too.
On a trip to the zoo, Katie’s dad jokes that the alligator must need a big toothbrush. This reminds Katie’s mom that Katie has an appointment with the hygienist the following day to have her teeth cleaned. The next day on the way to see Ms. Malek, Katie sees her friend Haley, who along with her brothers also goes to the same dentist. Everyone seems to love Ms. Malek. In the waiting room theres lots of toys and when she gets called back, she gets to sit in the big blue chair that tips back. Ms. Malek uses a little mirror to check every tooth, before she brushes them. She then tells Katie that hippos let fish clean their teeth. This visit Katie doesn’t need X-rays taken but next time Dr. Ali says she will. After picking a new toothbrush and toy, she is all set to go home.
On the way home, Katie sees some more friends and tells them about hippos using fish to clean their teeth. Pedro tells Katie that the dentist at the Zoo has to clean the tiger’s teeth. Thinking that he must be really brave, Pedro explains that the dentist first puts the tiger to sleep. Later that night, Katie brushes and flosses her teeth and then tells her dad that maybe when she grows up she can work at the zoo and clean the elephant’s tusks.
WHY I LIKE IT:
I love the diversity of Katie and her friends, and the people in her neighborhood. Normalizing diversity in literature is a great way to open kid’s eyes to the world around them. I also like that there is a glossary of words in the back, many dental in nature. There is a page of Katie’s questions to get readers thinking. And there is even an interview between Katie and Ms. Malek the dental hygienist.
None. There is nothing religious in the book, other than the names of the dentist and hygienist and the scarf on Ms. Malek.
TOOLS FOR LEADING THE DISCUSSION:
I think this book would be great at story time, and in classrooms. It isn’t meant for a book club, but I think even in a group setting, kids will be reassured about a trip to the dentist and find the animal information funny and informative. Kids might even have some more fun animal teeth facts to add to the discussion.
This book is perfect for early readers that are more fluent than picture books, but not quite ready for a full on chapter book. With five chapters, pictures on every one of its 73 pages, this book is a joy to read both on your own or out loud to a group. It is fun for Muslim children and non Muslim kids, and a great addition to bedtime or story time at Ramadan, or any other time of the year for that matter.
Samia and her Yaba live in Lifta, Palestine and her dad’s job in the month of Ramadan is is to wake the whole village up as the dawn waker-upper. Samia loves his important job, and hopes one day to do it too, but her dad says a girl has never done it before. Samia doesn’t understand why, girls can shout and bang drums as well as anyone else.
The day before the start of Ramadan, Yaba is not feeling well and doesn’t know what he will do. Samia sees her chance and says she can do it. Her drum is loud, her lantern is bright, and her dog, Barkie, will keep the wild wolves away.
As she sets out in the dark, she sees orange scary eyes in the woods and sings a song to herself to keep her brave as Barkie defends her. When she gets to the first house, they are surprised to see her, but the children of the home rush out to join her with their own drums. When the three children and Barkie get to the next house, their friend Omar wants to join in with his tambourine. This continues as the village children join together with whatever instruments, even pots and pans, they have to make sure everyone gets up in time for suhoor. For five is louder than four, all the way up to nine being the loudest of all.
The children all sing and the villagers reward them with candy and treats. On the way back home the wolves stay away and when they reach home Samia’s dad is feeling better and can’t wait to hear of her adventure.
WHY I LIKE IT:
The book is based in truth which is detailed at the end of the story on three pages that tell about Lifta, and how after a war the people were not able to return. It also tells about Ramadan as the story text itselft mentions it very little. Yes, it takes place in Ramadan, and the people need to be woken up to eat before the day starts to fast, but the afterword gives a bit more about the holiday and Eid that follows.
I love that the book is about a girl doing something because she can, I was afraid it was going to be like Hiba Masood’s Drummer Girl, but it takes a different turn in showing Samia having to be brave, showing team work and cooperation in getting the job done, and the village not even really caring who wakes them up, her being a girl doing a “man’s job” is never even mentioned again.
The book is fun with the sound effects and inclusion of everyone and the illustrations are incredibly well done.
The book is clean, the “scary part” is quick and while it adds a little tension, not enough to scare even sensitive little ones. The dog stands his ground and becomes the Dog King of the Village.
TOOLS FOR LEADING THE DISCUSSION:
I’m trying to see if I can do this as an online story time during Ramadan amid Covid 19. It is a super quick read, and is a lot of fun, but the small (8×5) size might make the pictures hard to see. I think all kg through 2nd grade classes should have this story. It explains a cultural celebration of Ramadan in a universal way that will make Muslims feel proud and non Muslims excited to learn about something new.
Book two in the Adam Series was the first Zanib Mian book I ever read, and for the last three years I’ve been looking for the first book. So, while thrilled to finally find it secondhand in the US, I realize my review of it is a bit selfish. I’m hoping that if it appeals to you that maybe we can encourage the author to re-release it somehow or write more books in the series, I’m not entirely sure how publishing and copyrights work, but I feel like it is worth a shot. There aren’t a lot of early readers with Muslim characters out there, let alone ones that are done well. The book is 32 pages, hard back and is would work for 5 year olds and up that know their site words and are pretty fluent at sounding out new words. Ideally, kids that have had the story read to them a few time will be able to pick it up faster, as the story is compelling, the spacing between lines and the variety of fonts will hold their interest, but some pages do have a lot of text and some words are a bit complex.
Adam has a tummy ache, aka tummy monsters, and while he doesn’t want “yucky medicine” from the doctor, he is happy when his dad, puts on a silly hat and assumes the role of “Detective Doodle” to solve the case. They determine that he ate porridge for breakfast, but so did Adam’s sister and brother, who are feeling fine, so that can’t be it. He washed his hands before eating, and said “Bismillah” before he started too. It seems he followed all the eating rules, but when Adam’s sister Mariam stumbles on a scene in the playroom, the culprit is uncovered.
WHY I LIKE IT:
I love that the family has a silly approach to a very common childhood problem. I also love that while, solving the case, reminders about eating etiquette are sneaked in without being preachy or cumbersome. Once the reason for the tummy ache is uncovered, Adam’s parents don’t scold him, but it is safe to say he probably learns his lesson.
The pictures are engaging and colorful. The mom wears hijab, and the characters are warm and happy. The background color of the pages changes and sets a nice tone for the book.
In the text, Adam isn’t asked if he said bismillah, but rather if he said, “in the name of God,” but in the illustration, a speaking bubble has him saying bismillah, which makes me wonder if the author was trying to make the book accessible to both Muslims and non Muslims alike. It definitely could be, I think the story is fun and the consequences for gorging on chocolate pretty universal.
TOOLS FOR LEADING THE DISCUSSION:
Like the second Adam book, this book will work perfect for story time in small groups and bedtime on repeat. I think in a classroom it would be great to have small groups read the story and then discuss. Not a traditional Book Club, obviously for the length of the book and the target audience, but I do think that even little kids will have a lot to say about Adam and his silly family. More importantly, I think they all will have stories of their own “tummy monsters” to contribute and discuss.
This 56 page (only 38 pages of story) early chapter book is a simple book with a lesson. For kindergarten to 2nd grade readers the book could be a short story, but the added minuscule details (how he got in the car, slid over, and buckled up) and the illustrations, flesh the book out in to seven chapters with a note for parents/educators at the beginning, and sections of: evidence from the Quran and Sunnah, comprehension questions, inspiration behind the story, glossary and information on the author at the end. The book isn’t bad, just kind of dry and bare bones. Satisfactory for young readers that enjoy quad races, and ideal for those that whine whenever it is salat time.
Sulaiman loves watching quad races and playing football (soccer, the book is British), but feels like, “Every time I want to do something exciting, it either rains or it is time to pray.” one afternoon when he is feeling particularly grumpy, his dad offers to take him to watch the quad races at a nearby stadium. Grandpa joins them and grandma sends them off with lunches and duas. First the car won’t start, then they take a bus and wait in line. Once they are inside the day looks up, the races are fun and then it is Thuhr time. Sulaiman wants to wait until a break, but it is winter and the days are short meaning Asr will be approaching fast. They go find a place to pray and when they return their seating section is closed. Part of the roof fell in due to the rain. Feeling fortunate that they had left to pray, Sulaiman sees the value of praying on time in this duniya. They later are given better seats and Sulaiman feels blessed that they had gone to pray.
The story was inspired by a real event, according to the “Inspiration Behind the Story” at the end, where the author says that her husband was at a football match in Algeria when an earthquake struck.
WHY I LIKE IT:
I love that the character is relate-able to most of our young Muslim children. He is a good kid, but has a hard time stopping what he is doing to pray. He has to be reminded to make wudu and brush his teeth. I like that grandpa gets to come along, but I wish he would get to tell some of his stories, rather than just have Sulaiman shush him and be annoyed. Similarly, I like that the dad is a “fixer” but some character development would have been really great. I understand the reading age isn’t tempted by back story, but a little investment in the characters would make the climax that much more intense. I was surprised by the roof falling in, but it snuck up so quick and was resolved equally fast, that I didn’t really feel it.
Also, I am not entirely sure what quad racing is. I mean I get that they are 4 wheelers racing on a stadium track. But, I didn’t realize it was such a thing to be watching it on tv and then heading to watch it live nearby. I’m glad I learned that kids dig it in Britain, but I’m thinking that it might be a little foreign . A soccer match or another race, might have made the story a bit more appealing.
The book is for Muslims by a Muslim despite the glossary at the back. The pictures aren’t great, but they make the page breaks appeal to the younger kids. The font, binding, and presentation makes for a nice looking and feeling book.
TOOLS FOR LEADING THE DISCUSSION:
This book would be really great in small groups. I can see it being used in Sunday schools or in Islamic schools, where Language Arts teachers and Islamic Studies teachers crossover to drive the importance of salat home. I think this would easily inspire this age group to then write their own copy-cat stories of why salat is important. The questions at the end could even make it like an extra credit novel study or a read aloud story with the questions used to verify comprehension.
Yes! Yes! Yes! A strong and relatable 2nd grade, Pakistani-American Muslim girl, with stories written on a AR 2.4 -2.5 level, learns lessons and grows in everyday scenarios. Seriously, this book is overdue and so well done, I can’t wait for the author, illustrator, and publisher, to team up to do more. The book I have, Meet Yasmin! contains all four stories: Yasmin the Explorer, Yasmin the Painter, Yasmin the Builder, and Yasmin the Fashionista. You can buy each of the books separately in a larger format, and possibly a longer story. The version I have is 5.5 x 7 and 96 pages long which includes a Think About It, Talk About It section at the back as well as a glossary of Urdu words, some facts about Pakistan and a recipe for Mango and instructions to make a bookmark craft . The individual stories are 6 x 9 and 32 pages, and whether you buy the collection or the individual stories, they are under $6. Fabulous all the way around.
Yasmin the Explorer: The book starts out with Yasmin’s dad telling her about explorers and maps. Inspired, Yasmin decides to make her own map of the neighborhood, which gets really exciting when her mom asks her if she wants to join her on a shopping trip to the farmer’s market. While they stop at different stalls and Yasmin adds to her map, the temptation of a playground draws Yasmin away from her mom, but luckily her map can guide her back.
Yasmin the Painter: Yasmin’s school is having an art competition and Yasmin is nervous because she doesn’t consider herself a very good artist. Her parents show her videos and gift her supplies. Unhappy with how her attempts are turning out, she decides to find her own style and with the support of her parents she enters her painting and waits nervously to see who wins and what the mystery prize is.
Yasmin the Builder: I think this story is my favorite because she really had to rely on herself when the class is building a city and Yasmin can’t figure out what to build. She perseveres and works hard, and ends up connecting the dots and making the city come to life by finding a way to make her favorite part of the city, going for walks, a part of the class project.
Yasmin the Fashionista: Mama and Baba have gone out for the evening, so Yasmin is hanging out with her grandparents. When Nani and Yasmin play dress-up and Mama’s shirt gets ripped, Yasmin and Nani have to solve the problem! Not only that, they get inspired to transform Yasmin’s pajamas, and when Mama and Baba come home they are treated to a fashion show!
WHY I LIKE IT:
There is a lot to love about these stories. Yasmin is not great at everything, and things don’t necessarily come easy for her. But she is bright and surrounded by people that love her, and she is allowed and encouraged to shine in her own way. I like that her painting wasn’t great, and that she stayed in from recess to figure out what to build. I love that her dad is involved in her projects and ideas as much as her mom, if not more. I love all the little nuances that accurately show a Pakistani-American family and a Muslim one; not an exaggerated version, or a dumbed down one either. Yasmin has to wait for her mom to put on her hijab, it doesn’t explain that she isn’t wearing a hijab in the home, but it is shown. It shows the characters in ethnic clothes and in western clothes. It shows Yasmin’s classmate building a church, and one building a castle. Yasmin is spunky, she makes mistakes, she works hard, and she is a breath of fresh air, that I think kids of any and all backgrounds will relate to her and enjoy the stories.
The pictures are bright and colorful and detailed. They are age appropriate and make the chapters within the stories really come to life and keep new readers engaged. The font and binding and layout is well done.
TIPS FOR LEADING THE DISCUSSION:
I honestly think little kids could read this and discuss it and might actually enjoy having a discussion about Yasmin: what they like about her, what things they have in common, what she does that makes them laugh. It might come across as a girl book, but really, it isn’t she is relatable for everyone.
There is nothing Islamic mentioned, just depicted in her mother’s and grandmothers hijabs.
A mainstream Early Reader book with a cute little muhajaba on the cover and a premise that she’ll be a big girl when she wears hijab seemed like a book I should adore. And while it isn’t bad, and I’m glad it was in the library, really I’m not sure how I feel about it.
In someways, I’m just confused. Why would you pick one of the characters to be named Hind, in a book urging readers away from picture books and into chapter books, it isn’t going to be pronounced with a short i sound, it is going to be pronounced like a “be-hind,” umm not so good for the age demographic you are trying to show another culture to, there will just be giggles and jokes. Also, many of the illustrations are cute, but what is wrong with the dad and with Jamila’s sleepy eyes, they kind of border on creepy. And not the creepy, in a cool way, more like creepy in an awkward way. And finally, with an author, a retold by, and a translator, and presumably a ton of editors and proofers at Orion Children’s Books, I found veil to be a very formal word to use throughout. It does say it is a scarf at one point, but the word of choice throughout is veil, and I think to be culturally accurate, hijab would have been a better choice. Even for English readers, scarf would have been a better fit.
The book is 62 pages, there is no glossary and it is not AR, but is a transition early reader book for kindergartener and first graders.
Little Hamda wants to spend time with her four big sisters, but they all say she is little and have other plans. When her mom reminds her that they were small at one time too, she realizes that when they were small they didn’t wear hijab, or in this book, a veil, and now they are big and where one when they go out. So, in her mind, once she starts wearing one, she too will be big, and thus the challenge of finding a way to wear it comfortably begins. She is helped and supported by all her family and finally she finds her own special way to wear her veil.
I like that it is a mainstream book trying to include some diversity. The family is relatable and the themes universal even if portrayed in a minority muslim framework.
WHAT I LIKE ABOUT IT:
I love the premise of the book and that it is very clearly Hamda’s idea to wear a veil, no one is forcing her. The text and illustrations align to show the girls cover when they go out, not in the home. The dad needs help at one point finding his shoes to go to the mosque. However, it doesn’t tell what a mosque is, or explain that the family is Muslim and wearing hijab is an Islamic act, which might be a comprehension block for young readers.
I really go back and forth on the illustrations. On the first reading I thought they were creepy, when I went back to write the review they were kind of cute. When I asked my kids, two said they were fine, and one said they were ugly and was positive I am the only one to have ever checked out the book. Yeah.
Fine, and Islamically nothing erroneous.
TOOLS FOR LEADING THE DISCUSSION:
Obviously not a book club level book, but I would be very interested to have some first and maybe even second graders read it and give me feedback, like I said I’m on the fence with this one. Check to see if your library has it, read it, have your kids read it, and let me know.