I’ve never been a huge fan of short stories, but this book has me reconsidering such an arrogant approach, as every single story in this collection has me feeling the warmth of Eid, the joy of authenticity, and the beauty of being a part of a faith with such strong female writers. Fifteen entries for middle graders in mind: short stories, poetry, and even a graphic novel, spread over 304 pages that shine light on Eid in today’s world, Eid al Fitr and Ramadan make up the bulk of the focus, but Eid al Adha and Hajj are in there too. And the best part of the book is that you will see yourself in it, possibly all through out it, but reading such diverse OWN Voice stories are sure to make a Muslim reader feel represented and right at home, and give non Muslim’s a peek at us from the inside, inshaAllah.
I don’t know how to review the book as a whole since there really are 15 different stories, that are each heartfelt and strong in their own right and yet somehow made better by the company around them. There were no weak links. There are stories with bickering siblings, annoying cousins, different cultures, mixed background familes, divorced families, converts’ stories, stories of families where money is tight, stories with illness, stories of loss, a story from the perspective of a refugee, and stories of reaching out of your comfort zone. There is one story about Eid al Adha and a story starring a Shi’a muslimah feeling different within Islam. There are stories told from boys voices and girls voices and every single story has a take home message, some more subtle than others, but all there and all real. I feel like even a summary of a story would prove a spoiler and take away from one just falling in to the collection and receiving the warm hug that awaits. I’ll leave the summaries to their titles and well known authors to spark your curiousity.
Perfect: Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow
Yusuf and the Great Big Brownie Mistake: Aisha Saeed
Kareem Means Generous: Asmaa Hussein
Don’ut Break Tradition: S.K. Ali
Just Like Chest Armor: Candice Montgomery
Gifts: Rukhsana Khan
The Feast of Sacrifice: Hena Khan
Seraj Captures the Moon: G. Willow Wilson and Sara Alfageeh
Searching for Blue: N.H. Senzai
Creative Fixes: Ashley Franklin
Taste: Hanna Alkaf
Eid Pictures: Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow
Not Only an Only: Huda Al-Marashi
Maya Madinah Chooses Joy: Ayesha Mattu
Eid and Pink Bubble Gum, Insha’Allah: Randa Abdel-Fattah
WHY I LIKE IT:
I recieved this book as an Advanced Reader (digital) copy and I am thinking I want a hard copy too, (I wasn’t able to view the artwork). A lot of people ask me and I see postings in various social media groups asking for suggestions of books to read each night as a family in Ramadan, and I think this one would work for grades 3 and up. Have each kid read the story throughout the day and then discuss in the evening. Every story will have something that is familiar, probably something new, and each has a teachable moment. I think different kids will identify with different aspects of the story and to articulate them in Ramadan will really bring the already memorable characters to life.
The book is very well done, and reads very smooth and cohesive, it really has a unified tempo and mood which is remarkable because so many different author’s and voices are included. The book stays focused on the feeling rather than getting too weighted down by doctrine. There are stories that feature hijab prominantly, and a bit of Prophet Muhammad (SAW), and some slight mention of islamaphobia, but it focuses on the friends and the love that support us, both Muslim and non, that make Eid and life hopeful.
TOOLS FOR LEADING THE DISCUSSION:
I would consider this as a book club book to be hosted just as I hope to do this Ramadan with my own children in my home (see above). I think really I just want to buy a bunch of copies to give as gifts to the fabulous elementary aged children I know, alhumdulillah.