Tag Archives: important

Salih by Inda Ahmad Zahri illustrated by Anne Ryan

Standard
Salih by Inda Ahmad Zahri illustrated by Anne Ryan

salih

This is an example of a picture book that should not be categorized as being only for children.  The passages of short simple text and the expansive illustrations that pull the reader in, combine to set a powerfully moving tone that holds you in it’s grips until the final page.  The names and hijab clad women could make this book a refugee tale with #muslimsintheillustrations, but because the author is Muslim, and the book so beautiful, I wanted to do a full review.  Some of the vocabulary is a bit advanced for younger children, so I think the best application of this book is not to hand it to a small child to read independently, but rather to read it to a child and let the words tickle their hearts while they immerse themselves in the pictures.  I look forward to sharing this book at story time to kindergarten through third grade.  I think the imagery, concepts, and emotion will resonate and open minds and hearts.

img_2168

Salih is like a turtle, he carries his home on his back. He and others are heading to the sea.  He tries to remember when things were better, and forget the bad times.

An old man shows him how to paint.  Salih shares this creativity with others.  Then he slips all the paintings into bottles and when he is on the rough sea, the bottles float away.

The storm rages, but then it calms, and land is seen, and hopes and dreams return.

We, collectively, have become numb, apathetic even, to the plight of refugees.  I have been trying for a while to get this book from Australia, and even though I am over a year late since its publication, it is still timely.  It will always be timely.

img_2170

We cannot be so arrogant to dismiss the plights and challenges faced by those in our world.  That is why I say, yes it is a children’s book, but people of all ages, need to be reminded.  It isn’t the worst of the worst incidents that need to only be shared, or the over the top happy stories.  We need to not let our hearts grow so hard. And this gentle book, with a sweet boy and turtle shell imagery has a lot of potential to remind us of the human element of global conflict.

Available to purchase in the USA here

img_2172

The Great (Food) Bank Heist by Onjali Q. Rauf illustrated by Elisa Paganelli

Standard
The Great (Food) Bank Heist by Onjali Q. Rauf illustrated by Elisa Paganelli

food bank

As an adult setting out to read this book, I imagined that the goal of the book was to bring awareness to a specific issue, food insecurity, and to rally support to help others with this basic need.  The beauty of Muslim author and activist Onjali Q. Rauf, however, is that even with such a clear intent, the storytelling, character building, and  enjoyment of the book makes you connect to the plot and issues and feel the message, not just be told it.  For children seven through 12  with no prior expectation of the book, they will be emotionally effected by the reality shown and feel empathy and compassion for characters that will hopefully translate into their real life.  My 10 and 12 year old boys read the book in about an hour, not realizing what the book was going to be about and hounded me to read it with glowing reviews.  This 103 page middle grades book has diverse characters (none are Muslim), and is a great story, a great educational tool, a great empathy check, and a great resource for how to get involved to start helping food banks, and breakfast clubs, all while being funny, relatable, kind, and engaging.

img_3836

SYNOPSIS:

Nelson, his younger sister Ashley, and their Mum work together to make hard “tricky” months manageable.  They are creative with their meals, they go to breakfast club, and they use their vouchers on Thursdays at the food bank.  Some times though, it isn’t enough, Mum has to pawn her jewelry, they go without meals, and generous friends share their snacks.  When the food bank starts running low, Nelson breaks his secrecy about breakfast club and his close friends Krish and Harriet are determined to help figure out why donated food isn’t reaching the bank and what they can do to make sure it does.

img_3837

WHY I LIKE IT:

I love that it shows how the family has food insecurities on a day-to-day basis and how never feeling full affects so much of the characters’ attention.  I also love that it shows their mom works, she is a nurse and works really hard, they don’t steal or load up on food that is donated, they are very grateful for all assistance given and their friends don’t judge them.  It shed light on a different narrative that many children perhaps don’t think about: that people they know and are close with, might be hungry.  I think the maturity of the kids is a lesson to adults reading the book too, that reminds us that kindness and assistance doesn’t need to come with judgement or arrogance.  The characters are all really likeable, they aren’t perfect, but even though the book is short, you feel your heart being affected by them in their handling of the mystery and the larger concept of hunger.

img_3838

FLAGS:

None

TOOLS FOR LEADING THE DISCUSSION:

I would read this book aloud in a classroom (2nd-5th), and if I get a chance to participate in Lunch Bunch (where a book is read to children while they eat their lunch) at our local Islamic School, I will start off with this book.  I think kids have bigger hearts than we often think they do, and while they might not recall the less fortunate when you want them to finish all the food on their plate, they often notice kids without lunches at school and share without prompting.  

Here’s a great clip and reading by the author: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NVYBLh0kODc

Happy Reading!

 

The Amazing Discoveries of Ibn Sina by Fatima Sharafeddine illustrated by Intelaq Mohammed Ali

Standard
The Amazing Discoveries of Ibn Sina by Fatima Sharafeddine illustrated by Intelaq Mohammed Ali

ibn sina.jpg

This non fiction, 32 page book is important in introducing 3rd graders and up to a very influential Muslim that shaped the world.  I try to keep to fiction reviews, but as someone who didn’t learn about Avicenna/Ibn Sina until college, I feel like the sooner we can inspire our Muslim children to know some of these remarkable historical figures and get their stories into western curriculums the better for us all.

IMG_5007

The book is told in first person and is translated from Arabic so parts are a bit awkward, such as when he is telling when he died, and parts do sound a little arrogant, but all that aside the book stays on task in describing Ibn Sina’s accomplishments and not getting distracted by historical, political, or cultural influences.  Some could argue that some context would be nice, but for 8 and 9 year olds, the facts are impressive enough and the streamline approach I think makes it something they can grasp.

IMG_5008

The book is beautifully done with a 9×12 hard cover and glossy pages.  The colored pencil pictures are beautiful and rich on most pages, with the neck and eyes a bit distracting on others.

IMG_5009

The book of course mentions his contributions to medicine but also includes his Islamic knowledge of memorizing the Quran and studying Islamic Law, cultural knowledge of knowing volumes of Persian poetry, architecture, literature, music as well as his extensive studying of philosophy, logic, linguistics, and more.

IMG_5010

It also mentions some of his findings, which do a great job of showing readers how relevant and important his work was then and now.  Understanding how children should be educated, how infections passed, that light travels faster than sound, anesthesia for surgical patients, to name a very, very few.

IMG_5011

I checked out the book from the public library and made my kids all read it, well not the 3 year old, and I think Islamic school teachers and Muslim parents really need to try and expose their kids to his accomplishments, get them excited about how their faith promotes questioning and education and then work on getting historical figures such as Abou Ali al-Hussein ibn Abdullah ibn al-Hassan ibn Ali ibn Sina more widely known in the greater society.