This 26 page rhyming picture book starts out basic enough with salaam being said from various locations, but it digs a little deeper as the book progresses to explain what salaam means, and how to respond. A good introduction to the greeting of peace for ages three and up. The pictures are jungle animals testing out the word and the 10 by 10 size is sufficient for bedtime and in small groups. My picky critiques are I don’t like the font as I think it is hard for early independent readers to decipher when capitalized, words such as “catastrophic” and “salutation” are a bit advanced for the demographic, and I wish there was a bit more Islam in the book, but overall it is sufficient, and an effective tool to helping get little ones to say salaam.
“Salaam from above, salaam from below, salaam from the mountaintops covered in snow,” is how the book begins as a cat hanging from a tree and braving the elements offers his greetings. A donkey then asks us to hold up and explain what the word means.
Salaam is defined as meaning peace in Arabic and a word that Muslims use that is like ‘hello’ only kinder. It is sending peace to those you say it to, and a show of respect. The animals say it to others before noting that you can say it short or long: Salaam or Assalamualaikum.
The book then asks how to respond before teaching us to say walaikum-assalam and telling us not to be alarmed the next time we hear the greeting, but to return it and spread it.
A new Eid book that talks about the religious aspects of Eid, such as praying and going to the mosque, as well as the cultural fun of getting henna done and eating samosas, presented through the shapes a little girl finds all around her. I liked the idea of presenting Eid through a different lens so to speak, and finally gave in and ordered the $17 hardback 28 page book. I had touched base with the author before I ordered it to see if it would work for little kids at a masjid story time and she thought it would. The text is one to four lines per page and rhymes, which allows the little ones to stay engaged. Some of the lines are forced or seem to break the rhyme scheme, but overall a book about shapes with rhyming lines makes sense.
The part that I was underwhelmed with was the illustrations. A book with such a visual concept at its core, to me would require breath taking pictures. But alas, the pictures seem done with crayon and colored pencils, and on many pages finding the shape is almost difficult for little ones. The detail is lovely, but the presentation seems lacking. They aren’t bright and shiny, they are muted and flat. The disconnect of the text and binding with the pictures seemed jarring to me. Perhaps it was just the price point made me expect more, I don’t know. I like the book, but I don’t love it. I will be reading it to a group of kids and if they love it I will take back my criticism of the pictures, happily.
I think the book works up to about 2nd grade, as the geometric shapes are both flat and 3-D, plus getting excited for Eid is something everyone enjoys. There is no reason this book is limited to Muslim children, but non muslims might be left with more questions after reading it about how Eid is celebrated and what aspects are religiously required and which are just fun customs. There is a small intro at the beginning to what Eid is, but no glossary or further info is included.