The book isn’t much to look at with its black and white, with yellow thrown in cover, and its 40 pages bound with a staple, but for independent readers between 2nd and 4th grade or so, the book is good. In many ways it is an older kids version of Zaahir and Jamel, adding a fictional story to the learning about the steps of Hajj.
The setting is Hajj and all of its different rituals, but the story is that Jamila and her pet mouse Fasfoose get lost in Mecca. Along the way to finding Jamila’s parents and performing the requirements of Tawaf, Sai, Arafah, Mina, Muzdalifa, Jamrah, and Eid, a few duaas are thrown in, friendship with people of different nationalities and lessons in patience, speaking with your heart and finding your internal compass of wrong and right all come to light.
WHY I LIKE IT:
I like the target audience, and how it doesn’t ever feel preachy or like a How-to-perform-Hajj manual. If a child is familiar with the rituals of Hajj the story gently reminds them of what they already know and the story takes center stage. If they are unfamiliar, the book doesn’t talk down to them, and may prompt them to want to learn more. Strong lessons of being kind and not hurting anyone or anything while in ihram are strong, as are the beauty of multiple cultures speaking from their heart to find common threads. There are illustrations to break up the text and not overwhelm the young reader, and the story is divided into seven chapters. The font and size are all age inviting and even older middle school kids would probably pick it up if they saw it, read it in about 20 minutes and be glad that they did.
TOOLS FOR LEADING THE DISCUSSION:
The book is fun, probably not long enough for a book club selection, but a great read -a-loud. The length of the chapters make it a short read that ideally could be read the week before Hajj or Eid. My 3rd grader read it and is enjoying listening to me read it to my 2nd grader.