This dual language book, is structured and feels like a leveled reader, but is more geared for fluent reading five to seven year olds. It definitely has more complex diction and vocabulary than an emerging reader would be able to handle in English, I have no idea about the Arabic.
The concept in 26 pages is how to forgive others and react calmly when we are upset. The book is brightly illustrated on glossy sturdy softbound pages, and the characters are found in all of the company’s stories and plush figures at https://www.littlemaysoor.com/
Little Zakariyyah has been behaving well, and as a result his mom gets him a new red toy car, he loves it and plays with it in the garden everyday. His sister Ruqayyah wants to play with it, he agrees and when he hands it to her, she accidentally drops it and it breaks. In anger Zakariyyah begins screaming for her to “Go away from me!” Mom comes out to see what is going on and calm everyone down, she takes Zakariyyah inside and pours him some milk. When she hands it to him, his hand slips and he drops the glass breaking it and making a mess. Mom forgives him and obviously highlights the similarities to what just happened with his sister and the toy car. Mom then gently guides him to acknowledge his poor behavior and asks him what he things he should do. Zakaraiyyah knows he needs to ask Allah swt for forgiveness and then apologize (apologise) to Ruqayyah. Once he does this, his sister shares some sweets with him and reminds him of a hadith, “The strong one isn’t he who can overpower others. Instead, the strong one is he who can control himself when he becomes angry.”
WHY I LIKE IT:
Before the story begins there are six points you can implement before reading the story, and after the story, there are beginner and advanced concept questions and a place to write the answers provided. The book has an agenda and it achieves its mark in showing a moral concept in an Islamic framework.
The book is written in British English which could make the spelling a bit confusing for new American readers, but manageable. I honestly don’t know if the book was written in English then translated to Arabic or the other way around. Some of the wording seems awkward so it could be attributed to it being translated from Arabic or it might just be the American/British difference. For example Zakariyyah loves playing in “a small sand pit for children,” why not just say, sandbox? Again not terrible, but rationale for why I think children sounding out words might be a bit young for the target audience.
I liked the story and how it lets the reader see the similarities to the events that unfold, just like I loved that the mom asked Zakariyyah what he should do, rather than dictate or scold him. I was surprised when I read it, how smooth the ending was, because it really could have had Ruqayyah come across as a know-it-all and it didn’t.
The beginning of the book stumbled a bit with the set up trying to tell about Zakariyyah, why he got the toy and then staging the plot of the book. If he had been playing with the car everyday, is it still a new car? Also the illustration before he drops the milk has him sitting at the table with a glass a milk in front of him. Sure, maybe it was the second glass that he dropped, but it’s noticeable.
TOOLS FOR LEADING THE DISCUSSION:
The book is obviously too short for a book club per se, but I think if you had a small group of readers, or are home schooling, you really could ask a child to read the book and then reflect back what they understood and what they learned and how they hope to put it in to practice.
Even with not reading the Arabic, the book is pretty solid in its approach and I plan to check out the other books in the series as I do a lot of story times with basic morals as themes.