I thought I knew what this latest Owl & Cat book would entail. I figured like the Islam is… and Ramadan is… books, this book would, in its simplicity, poignancy, and repetitive sentence structure convey the emotions and importance of Hajj. So imagine my complete surprise when the 78 page book with two familiar characters actually detailed day-by-day the steps of Hajj for young preschool aged readers and listeners and up.
Owl and Cat show what a pilgrim does on each of the 5 days of Hajj. Each section is separated by days with color tabs on top to keep the steps clear. The illustrations are a little crisper than in previous books which resembled little doodles a bit more to me. And while the simplicity of sentence structure, length, and diction remains, the book is a lot more factual and didactic than sentimental, especially compared to the other books in the series.
The book starts off with a a list of contents and an informative page about Hajj. Owl and Cat then pack their bags, and travel by plane to Mecca. Day one has them putting on ihram, performing tawaf, sa’iy, and heading to Mina. Some details about what each step means are given, but nothing overwhelming or too wordy. The illustrations show what the text means and offer a lot to the understanding, if the concepts are foreign.
Day two is going to Arafat, and standing in prayer at Jabal ar-Rahma. They then head to Muzdalifah to rest and collect stones. It also mentions that “many Muslims who are not on Hajj will fast.”
Day three takes them back to Mina to throw their pebbles, make sacrifice, cut their hair, and change out of their ihram before they do their second tawaf, sa’iy, and travel back to Mina for Eid.
Day four is in Mina stoning the jamarat as is day five before they travel back to Mecca to do the final tawaf and drink Zamzam water before their Hajj is complete.
The book would probably work for non Muslims in that it isn’t preachy, but some base knowledge would be needed as there isn’t a glossary. The book is pretty thorough for a children’s book, but I think the information is needed. Many children do stimulations of Hajj or read simplified versions and don’t realize there is some back and forth and many of the actions are done more than once, and that it is a lot of actions, steps, and traveling in a short amount of time.