This 32 page rhyming book follows a little boy around as he is weighed down by a lot of things not going his way. He doesn’t want to forgive until he is the one that hurts someone else and realizes we all make mistakes, forgiveness is not a weakness, and we all feel angry at times. The book breaks from the story to ask the reader to think about their emotions in various situations, and encourages the reader to talk about their feelings. The framework is Islamic and the repenting to Allah swt is part of the message. I found it awkward to read independently, but I read it to a small group of my own kids and their cousins, seven in all, ages four to thirteen, and it worked very well to discuss what the boy was feeling and how they would react. I think this book would be great in a classroom or as a book an adult reads to a child at bedtime to encourage conversation. I had to point out to the little ones, that the knapsack was getting bigger with the little boys anger, and explain what it was, but as a tool to foster dialogue it was incredibly powerful.
The book starts out with a poem/du’a by Mufti Menk that sets the tone for the book. It makes clear that we are all human and feel things and that this book is a tool to understand and emotionally grow from. No one is going to get in trouble or be reprimanded.
The story stats with the little boy waking up happy and ready to have a wonderful day. But then when he comes down for breakfast, his sister has eaten the last piece of toast. The book asks the reader, “how do you feel when things don’t go your way?” and asks the little boy to let sorry make it better so that he can let it go. But the little boy doesn’t want to let it go, he wants to hold on, and as a result it makes his heart feel heavy.
This pattern is followed throughout the book giving examples when the boy doesn’t get included in a game at school with his friends, when his friend kicks his football (soccer ball) in to the road and it gets popped by a passing car, and at dinner when his older brother laughs at him.
He then picks on his sister at bedtime, and doesn’t even know why he is doing it, and realizes that he too has made a mistake. He learns that “it takes a strong person to let it go,” and that “forgiving is like taking off a heavy bag that I’ve been carrying all day long.”
The book ends with some verses and hadith about forgiveness. Has some facial expressions with emotions to discuss, and space to write down things that make you feel angry, hurt, or sad as well as a place to share what makes you happy, grateful, and safe. There is also a glossary of Islamic Arabic terms on the inside back cover.