Tag Archives: egyptian

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

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.