I feel like such a broken record of late (and in the future), of my reviews of books published by Ruqaya’s Bookshelf; the stories are WONDERFUL, but I really struggle with the titles. I truly thought this was a cultural/religious version of the classic, I Know an Old Lady who Swallowed a Fly. But it isn’t. It is an original clever, laugh-out-loud hysterical story for preschool to early elementary. And one that parents and caregivers will not dread reading over and over again with the well done rhyme, expressive illustrations, a silly conclusion, religious framework, and universal appeal. The book is on point, the title and cover illustration, sadly for me are not, and don’t, in my opinion, do the story justice.
Auntie Sophie is making samosas with some peppers she grew herself. Under the close company of her kitty, we learn how the Scotch bonnets were grown and cared for. The doorbell rings and Auntie Eynara has arrived with her beautiful cake to take to the masjid for iftaar.
Auntie Sophie hurries and fries her samosas and the ladies head up the hill to the only mosque in town. Everyone breaks their fasts with a date, but Auntie Sophia dives in to her samosas. When the imam’s mic crackles, she swallows the samosa whole and something is terribly wrong. Her belly is on fire and jelly nor garlic knots nor mint lemonade not rice can cool it down.
Just when she thinks she is ready to pray, it starts up again, and having eaten everyone’s dinner, Auntie Sophia is getting very tired. As she rolls out the door and down the hill to her house, she figures out what happened to her delicious samosa filling, and calls to have pizza and halal hot wings delivered to the mosque. She also pledges to grow flowers next year instead!
Kids will love the book as it is outrageous, while at the same time being so relatable. The mosque, iftar, eating something spicy, the book is a favorite at our house for both the two and six year old and the horizontal 8.5 x11 orientation, keep eyes glued to the pages, while the rhyming lines move the story along. I enjoy being able to talk about the peppers and different foods and smell of garlic with my kids after the 17th reading or so, and I love the diversity of the characters at the mosque.