Tag Archives: Mariam Al-Kalby

Circle of Sandcastles by Mariam Al-Kalby, Illustrated by Yee Von Chan


circle of sandcastles

The second book by Mariam Al-Kalby in The Prophet Says Series, is just as good, if not better than the first book, The Apple Tree.  Dedicated to her second daughter Maimuna, this story focuses on the hadith, “Whoever amongst you sees an evil, he must change it with his hands; if he is not able to do so, then with his tongue; and if he is not able to do so, then with his heart; and that is the weakest form of Faith” (Sahih Muslim).

The book follows shy Maimuna as she goes from stopping bullies picking on a deaf classmate within her heart, with her tongue and finally as she has to get her hands involved.  Once again the illustrator does a wonderful job bringing the story to life with joyful playful illustrations and detail.  I used this book with the preschoolers at story time when talking about the five senses and with the kindergartners when talking about bullying and being mean, in both scenarios the book had a strong impact on the students.  I’ve had students remind me in passing how we should handle bullies in our heart or with our tongue and even my own 4 year old has referenced the book when seeing people communication in sign language.  Like the first book, the discussion that follows can be different with each reading, which keeps it in regular rotation.  The bullies are not all bad, but one doesn’t feel guilty giving lots for the reader to speculate upon if they so choose. Shy Maimuna has to be courageous and assess the situation if it is something she feels she can get involved with or not.  Mu’min, the child’s whose sandcastles keep getting destroyed, shows us that Allah swt made us each different, but really the same too.

The book has four Urdu words in it, that actually kind of seem awkward and forced, I simply translated them to English when reading to students (there is a glossary in the back), if you are familiar with Urdu they are fine, but rather unnecessary in my opinion.  The book has 32 pages, is hardback and beautiful inside and out. The author’s website has a cute coloring page http://apocketfulofnotes.com/2013/11/14/circle-of-sandcastles-coloring-sheet/ and inshaAllah your kids enjoy the book as much as mine do, I can’t wait to see what she writes next.

The Apple Tree by Mariam Al-Kalby, Illustrated by Yee Von Chan



I have been looking forward to obtaining this book for a while (it was back ordered on Amazon) and over all it was worth the price $16, and worth the wait.  The illustrations are absolutely beautiful.  At story time the kids constantly urge me to take my time in turning the page.  They aren’t incredibly detailed, just very whimsical and engaging, that you want to take a peek and stay a while to play with little Shaima.

The book’s moral comes from two hadiths (sayings of Prophet Muhammad (p.b.u.h.)) “When a Muslim plants a tree, whatever is eaten from it is charity from him, and whatever stolen is charity, and whatever is subtracted from it is charity” (Sahih Muslim), and ” There is no Muslim who plants a tree or sows seeds and then a bird, or a person, or an animal eats from it except that it is regarded as charity for him” (Sahih Bukhari).

The main character, Shaima, wakes up one morning at fajr to find her Baba planting an apple tree.  The two discuss what “reward of charity” means and the value of sharing.  Time presumably passes, although the tree does seem to grow and produce incredibly fast.  Once the apples are ready to be picked, Shaima finds everyone taking her apples: a little boy, a squirrel and her babies, some birds, what can she do?  The solution is both a lesson and inspiration for the character and the reader and makes for a fun book to get the discussion rolling on a wide variety of topics: patience, charity, sharing, generosity, humility and more, alhumdulillah.

The book is not AR, but is relevant to 4 year old children and up.  The book is hardcover and 32 pages. There are six Arabic words which are explained in the glossary and do not impede the story in any way.