This 92 page early chapter book is a great linear story for 1st through 3rd graders. The size, font, spacing, illustrations, chapter length, and content make it a fun read that incorporates diversity, environmental action, teamwork, information about beavers and acceptance all through the efforts of young Badir, a recent immigrant from Tunisia during the blessed month of Ramadan.
Badir is new to Canada and while he misses Tunisia, he is joyful and upbeat as we meet his older brother Anis, young twin siblings and classmates. Out one night before iftar, he sees what he thinks is a giant rat swimming in a lake, but no one believes him. When he sees it a second time, a lady at the park explains to him that it is a beaver, not a rat, and pulls out a Canadian coin to show him there is a connection between beavers and Canada. With new knowledge about the difference between a lake and a pond, a rat and a beaver, Badir is fascinated with how beavers build homes, mate for life, and benefit the environment. He even likens the beaver eating at sunset to his families own Ramadan schedule.
But all is not well for the beaver, as a petition is being circulated to relocate the rodent and save the trees in the park from his sharp teeth. With new friends, a supportive teacher and classmates, Badir is determined to prevent the beaver from having to leave his home as Badir and his family had to do.
WHY I LIKE IT:
I love that this book is subtle in highlighting the welcoming of immigrants into a community, about having the main character be Muslim and it being Ramadan, and showing that diverse people can come together for a bigger cause and even become friends. The main story line is naturally to save the beaver and the trees in the park, so the information and facts about beavers is appreciated and well presented. I think most everyone of every age will learn something new about the common rodent. But, by the main character being genuinely like-able and infectious, the reader will also realize that any negative stereotypes about Muslims or immigrants really aren’t a factor. Badir’s family is really nice, the parents prepare food together, they feed their kids’ friends, and invite them over. The author does a good job at accurately making them seem like any other family.
There isn’t much stress on Badir being Muslim or what that means outside of it being Ramadan, praying, and going to the mosque as a family at night. The illustrations show the mom in hijab. The book tells a tiny bit about Tunisia, but not why they left, and definitely makes the foods they eat sound delicious. Overall, it really does a good job of keeping the book about the beaver and finding a solution.
The book is for both non Muslims and Muslims and seems to be written by a non Muslim, and while set in Ramadan it is definitely not limited to being a “Ramadan story.” There are small pictures on many pages and a full page picture in each of the 12 chapters.
TOOLS FOR LEADING THE DISCUSSION:
I think this book should be in classrooms and school libraries. It really is well written, informative, and fun. I don’t do a story time for the target audience of this book, but I think it would be a candidate for my “Lunch Bunch” meetings, when I read aloud to 4th and 5th graders once a week while they eat lunch. Even if it is slightly below a 5th grade level, I think even older kids who pick it up and read it, or listen to it being read, will find it interesting, entertaining, and worth their time.
Publisher’s page: https://www.orcabook.com/Badir-and-the-Beaver-P3992.aspx