Tag Archives: class

The Night Before Eid: A Muslim Family Story by Aya Khalil illustrated by Rashin Kheiriyeh

The Night Before Eid: A Muslim Family Story by Aya Khalil illustrated by Rashin Kheiriyeh


This 40 page early elementary picture book is set the night before Eid and radiates with love from a boy to his Teita, traditional ka’ak, and the family’s Egyptian culture.  The robust and personal backmatter shares a glimpse into the threads from the author’s real life that the story touches upon, and makes the book extend beyond the pages.  It is worth noting that this book does not articulate if it is for Eid al Fitr or Eid al Adha and thus works for both.   There is nothing religious in the book except a reference to something happening after Eid prayer in a memory, and the shape of the cookie being round like the Ramadan moon, Eid day is not mentioned, it is simply the catalyst for this warm family story about a boy and his grandma making a special treat for the first time and sharing it at school.  The large hardback book with fun illustrations is ideal for both story time and bedtime readings alike.


It is the night before Eid and Teita has arrived from Egypt.  Zain can’t wait to make ka’ak to take to school and share with his friends.  The beloved powdered sugar cookies are steeped in tradition, both in Zain’s family and in Egyptian history.  Once the suitcases is unpacked and the special ingredients found, Teita and Mama share memories of baking with cousins, painting henna designs on hands and putting eidiya in envelopes.  The family recalls singing together on the balcony while Geddo played the tabla and lights and lanterns filled the streets below, after Eid prayer they would hand out the ka’ak.


Zain wants the ka’ak to turn out perfectly so his teacher and friends will like them.  Teita tells him that ka’ak is as old as the ancient pharaohs, and that recipes were found in the pyramids.  At one time rulers would even put gold coins in the cookies.  Zain and his Teita mix and add the required ingredients, and drink iced apricot juice as they wait for the dough to be just right.  Getting the cookies pressed with the molds though is harder than it looks, and Zain gets frustrated. Teita’s love and patience and Zain’s clever thinking get the treat making back on track.  The ka’ak doesn’t have a gold coin filling, but they are filled with tradition.


The timeline is a bit off for me with the grandma coming before Eid and then the cookies going to school on Monday, and then Monday evening when Zain is writing down the recipe with Teita he is telling her Eid Mubarak and that it is the best Eid ever.  So, it seems that he went to school on Eid, not to Eid prayers, which is fine, just a little sad that there was no Eid celebration or prayers.  I don’t know that kids will be bothered by it, but the lack of mirroring and stressing how joyous Eid is does somehow get lost and mitigated, in my opinion, by skipping acknowledgement of the religious holiday.   In the backmatter the author remarks that she has “outgrown the magic of Eid,” so perhaps it is intentional that the day is not included in the text.


The last six pages of the book are filled with informative and engaging information about What is Eid, Ka’ak Time Line, A Note from the Author with photographs of her and her family celebrating Eid, a Simple Ka’ak Recipe and Additional Resources.

I purchased my copy from Crescent Moon Store where if you put my initials ISL (Islamic School Librarian) in at checkout you will save 10% or is available here on Amazon where the book currently has a coupon for $3.80 off.

Mr. Wolf’s Class by Aron Nels Steinke

Mr. Wolf’s Class by Aron Nels Steinke


I know this AR 2.1, 156 page graphic novel probably doesn’t deserve a review, but for as important as OWN voice books are, books with Muslim characters thrown in the mix are important for representation too.  Yes sometimes we are the star and we definitely need to tell our own stories, but we are also friends, and side-kicks and supporters too.  In this case we are a purple duck with a headscarf named Aziza, that thinks she is smarter than the other 4th graders in Mr. Wolf’s class, but fits right in with the quirkiness of the anthrmorphized cast too.  There is nothing mentioned about the scarf or about Aziza’s faith, there is also a boy named Abdi in the class that is a cat and could also be Muslim, but really, in this silly book which is the start of a series, I was just so giddy to see a Muslim included and grateful for the representation.



It is the first day of 4th grade and Mr. Wolf is nervous.  Margot is new too, but the other kids seem to know each other already.  Aziza, Abdi, Randy, Sampson, Henry, Penny, Bobby, Lola, Oliver, Stewart, Miguel, Noah, Molly, Lizzy, Oscar, and Johnny are all different animals and all unique.  The book is really just a handful of the characters trying to survive the first day of school.  Whether it be confronting another teacher about stealing your stapler, making a friend on the bus, having rats steal your lunch, falling asleep in a box because your new baby brother kept you up on all night, or trying to figure out why you have to show your work when on a math assessment.  The book will resonate with kids 2-4th grade and make them giggle at the silliness of it all.



I love that the teacher is more nervous than the kids about the first day of school and that they all seem to be doing the best they can.  Aziza is earily irritated by her classmates who don’t seem to want to do their work, but she is no more annoying than the other students and all seem to have diverse backgrounds and issues at hand.  The author was an educator and the book reads true to any one who has littles or has been in a school environment, making it all the more charming.  There are four books thus far in the series and my kids say Aziza features prominantly in the second book too.  I have had this book in my house for a while now, and for some reason just now paid attention to the cover today when begrudgingly scolding my kids about leaving books out everywhere.  I asked if the duck had on a hijab and two of my boys without budging to put away said book, replied, “yeah it is Aziza.” As if seeing a muhajaba duck is the norm, who knows maybe it is.  So, I sat down to read the book with enthusiasm and 20 minutes later, thought how great it is to be included. Representation does shape perception, and non Muslim kids may not think anything of it, or my own kids who are flooded with Islamic fiction books, but I can only imagine how ecstatic I would have been as a kid to be included as the norm without fanfare or explanation given.



They talk about if farts are better or ice cream in the creation of a venn diagram.



Wouldn’t do it for a book club, but would definitely have it in a class library and school library.  Fun book, seemingly fun series, and easy reading for all levels.