Tag Archives: mom

The Adventures of Amina Al-Sirafi by Shannon Chakraborty

The Adventures of Amina Al-Sirafi by Shannon Chakraborty


It has been a long time since I have stopped reading a book because I simply do not want it to end.  Clearly I have no self control, so a day later I picked it back up and finished the 496 pages, but oh what a treat to be swept away aboard a magnificent tale with rich history, Muslim characters, Islamic references, developed fantasy world building, complex side characters, excitement, plot, adventure, and everything else you would expect from the author of the Daevabad series.  The book is an adult read, and I really can’t suggest it to YA readers, the protagonist is a middle aged mom with a foul mouth and a bad knee, there is cursing, and killing,  hetero, gay and demon love interests among the main characters, a transgendered character, sex mentioned, drinking, and magic, it is all part of the story, but it isn’t so in your face that older mature Muslim readers will be uncomfortable.  So why am I reviewing it here, I honestly don’t know.  Clearly it is not to be shelved in the Islamic School Library, but there is so much authentic Islamic centering on every single page, that I want to give it space to remind/encourage us all that we don’t have to hide or water down our faith in mainstream books- not if the writing, story, and characters are so incredible.  I really thought a historically set pirate fantasy would be hard to read, that the vocabulary and references would leave me lost and confused, but it is written so beautifully that the pages fly by and you forget you are reading; it is as if you are watching the story unfold in front of you.  Please consider preordering this book so that publishers know support exists for authentic OWN voice Muslim character led books, I have an e-version, but have also preordered a physical hard back copy here.


It has been a decade since the infamous nakhuda Amina al Sirafi has taken to the Indian Ocean to plunder and sail. The stories of her have grown and traveled in her retirement, but life is now more about protecting her daughter and fixing her leaking roof.  When her previous life finds her and threatens her, however, she must return to her Marawati, call on her old friends, and put together a crew.  Told through a storyteller, with banter between Jamal and Amina, the fourth wall is broken and the reader knows that the hero will survive, yet the adventures of outsmarting Aden’s defenses, peris, demons, Franks, pirates, and marids to prevent the Moon of Saba from being manipulated is a fast paced chaotic adventure that pulls you in from the first page.  The fairly linear story from one point of view (mostly), connects the haunting past to the trials at hand, as the crew and characters are understood through their captain.  I don’t want to give anything away, but the side characters are nuanced and developed in a way that you feel just as close to them as Amina does, and as she becomes frantic to save them, the reader too is invested in their choices and actions.  Pirate adventure, saving the day, a mom as a hero and a missing demon husband refound, yeah, don’t read summaries of this book, just read the book.


I was surprised at the religious redemption arcs and details that were included on truly every page, from the meaning of the translation of Ayat ul Kursi, to acknowledging past sins and striving to not repeat them, Amina al Sirafi practices her Islam in her five daily prayers, regular supplications, regular repentance, and view of the world and her place in it.  She isn’t preachy, and much of what she faces tempts her to drink wine and fornicate again, but her struggles are really refreshing to see.  It isn’t that she is Muslim and that is the framing for the al-ghayb elements alone, it is so part of her and thus of the book, that you can’t help but feel seen.

The gay character’s lover is mentioned, neither are Muslim, but it is only a few lines in the entire book.  The transgendered character starts off uncomfortable with being forced to marry and hints that she doesn’t feel feminine, Amina pieces together what she is saying and then at the end it shows that she is now identifying and carrying herself as a man.  It isn’t a big part of the text, it has a strong effect on the story and it does touch on God’s view of such things, as the character is Muslim.  The demon love interest SLIGHT SPOILER is Amina’s husband that she thought she had killed, she has had a lot of husbands, but when he turns up alive, she realizes technically they are still married.  He asks her quite often to have sex.  It is usually is just that blunt with no romance or longing, and when they do partake in the act, it isn’t overly graphic, it is “closed door.”  There is killing and murder and deceit and lying and drinking, all things assumed would be in a pirate story.  None of it is overly glorified, but it is normalized.

I really just love the characters and the fast paced action, the book leaves off implying there will be more tales to come and I hope there are.  (I keep writing what I love about the book and deleting it, because you know….spoilers, ahh).


As previously mentioned: cursing, sex, hetero and gay relationships, magic, fantasy, killing, murder, lying, drinking, drugs, jinn, peris, marids, fantasy, occult, demons, death, loss.


I would never do this for a school book club, but would do it in a heartbeat for an adult book club!



The Great Labne Trade by Eman Saleh illustrated by Eilnaz Barmayeh

The Great Labne Trade by Eman Saleh illustrated by Eilnaz Barmayeh


My friend Noura, owner of Crescent Moon Store, said this book was good, so when I saw the amazing illustrations on the cover, I didn’t even look into what the book was about, I bought it and waited impatiently for it to arrive.  When it came I started reading it and thought ok, ok another book about lunch food that is perceived as “other” and the bullying that ensues with having a “smelly” lunch.  But the bullying never really came, and the book was suddenly not about being different, it was about entrepreneurship, and a mother’s love and support, and appreciating good food, and sharing culture, and raging against an oppressive system. Ok, so there was no raging, the book ended with determination and a following of the “rules,” in a very kid appropriate manner, but it was fun and a nice change from the typical storyline in rhyming children’s books.  There is no “Islam” aside from a boy named Ahmed and his sweet hijab wearing mother, but this book will result in smiles for kids preschool to early elementary and encourage business creativity and thinking outside the box.


Ahmed is not thrilled to be taking a labne sandwich to school and would rather have a pb&j like everyone else. His mom encourages him to “be proud of who you are, appreciate how special you are, stand tall, don’t let other’s make you feel small,” and sends him out the door.  At lunch when the kids start to turn up their noses, Ahmed gets them to try the sandwich, and they love it.


Ahmed gets an idea, maybe he can sell labne sandwiches to his classmates. Mama stays up late making them and Ahmed sets up shop in the cafeteria. He sets his price, and they sell out, so he increases the charge, and they are still selling. He also is open to trades for those that can’t pay.  Before you know it he is adding dishes to the menu.  Things are going well for entrepreneur Ahmed, until the lunch ladies have had enough and take matters to the principal.


The 58 page book is not text heavy and the rhyme is fairly good, it is hit and miss at times, but the story is not hindered by it. I did feel like the book took a few pages to set the stage and get into the story. The initial timeline and the “smelly” lunch could be cleaned up a little, but once the business storyline presents it is smooth and enjoyable. And the illustrations, they are perfect for the story and for keeping Ahmed and his dream in your heart.

The book is available here at Crescent Moon or on Amazon.


You Can Control Your Voice: Loud or Quiet? You Choose the Ending by Connie Colwell Miller illustrated by Victoria Assanelli

You Can Control Your Voice: Loud or Quiet? You Choose the Ending by Connie Colwell Miller illustrated by Victoria Assanelli


you can controlA choose your own adventure picture book, that doesn’t have anything Islamic specific, doesn’t seem to be written by a Muslim or illustrated by a Muslim, and that was found at the public library, starring a Muslim mom and daughter.  Oh hurrah for beautiful illustrations, teachable moments, volume control in a library and the fun to read the story and have control over what happens next.


This 24 page book meant for kids in kindergarten to second or third grade is part of a series featuring diverse characters learning universal manners and making good choices. To see Muslims represent a universal lesson in a relatable environment is a great way to normalize seeing women in hijab in real life.


Haneen and her mom are at the library, and Haneen finds a book about fairies and cannot contain her excitement.  Immediately the reader has to choose what Haneen does next.  If she stays loud, the story ends rather quickly, but if she tries to keep her voice down, she might get to stay at the library a little longer.


There is a big test when she sees a friend, and disturbs a gentlemen working on the computer, but if you make good choices Haneen gets to check out two books.  If your choices aren’t ideal you might have to just get the fairy book and get out, and if you really struggle to know how loud or quiet to be, you’ll have to come back another day and try again.


At the end of the book are some things to think about, to drive the point home.  I love the line, “We are all free to make choices, but choices have consequences.”  A great lesson for little ones, and a great reminder for older readers too.


The book is 9×8 and the expressions on the characters faces make the book a great option for circle time, story time, bedtime, and just to have on hands for kids to thumb through and enjoy.  Well done!


My Mum is a Wonder by Michele Messaoudi illustrated by Rukiah Peckham

My Mum is a Wonder by Michele Messaoudi illustrated by Rukiah Peckham

my mum.jpg

This book published in 1999 was one of the first books I remember reading regularly to my Sunday school class, and reading it now as a mum myself makes it warm me all the more.  In 34 warmly colored illustrations, this 8×8 book shares the story of how a little boy sees his mom.  How impressed he is by her and how truly he loves her for all that she does, all that she is, and all that she shares with him.


As the story progresses from what she does within the home and family, to what she does for others, the little boy also imagines himself all grown up and his mum as a nan.  He imagines that she will need him and he is ready and willing for when that time comes, to take care of her.


The book and illustrations target ages 3-6.  Written in rhyming couplets, four lines per page, the story moves at a steady pace and the pictures are detailed and familiar enough to engage most kids at bed time or in small settings.

mum inside 2

There are little Islamic specific tidbits sprinkled throughout that give parents or readers a chance to use it as a more specific teachable moment.  Saying “salam, reading Quran, thanking Allah for the food they have, praying salat, giving charity, visiting the elderly, celebrating eid, obeying her, and caring for her in her old age to achieve jannah, inshaAllah.