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.