This heartfelt elementary picture book does a remarkable job of drawing the reader in to the emotions of the main character, his relationship with his grandfather, and imparting a moral message without being preachy. The illustrations are lovely on their own, but the way the muted tones convey the memories and illustrate the text really ties the book together. Whether it is for a larger story time or a one-on-one bedtime read, the book will offer discussion, comfort, guidance, and a little surprise at the end for Muslim and non Muslims alike. The slightly allegorical book does conclude with a widely known hadith (it is attributed to Prophet Muhammad saw, but is not further cited/sourced) and the family is clearly Muslim with their names mentions of Eid and God, and a hijab clad woman, but the book is universal and a lovely addition to any book shelf.
The book starts with Amir finding his Grandpa’s old blue jacket and recalling wrapping himself in it the day after his beloved Grandpa died. With it smelling like mothballs, he tosses it in the washing machine, but unfortunately when it comes out it has clearly shrunk. Amir is in denial, he says it fits fine and he has no desire for a new one. It is Grandpa’s jacket, and Amir is going to wear it, no matter how tight it is. Amir storms off to sit under the apple tree and recalls picking apples and making applesauce the year before for the whole neighborhood. Grandma shares that she used to keep grandpa’s cane but when someone needed it, she let it go.
Grandma stirs another memory in Amir when she pulls the tray of ka’k out of the oven, of him trying to sneak a whole plate for himself only to have his hiding spot taken over by ants. When he is asked this time to share a plate, every step to the neighbors house reminds him even more of making the trip with his grandfather. Slowly he starts to realize that his memories are with him, not in his grandfather’s things, and Amir makes a decision that would make his grandfather proud, and (inshaAllah) give him more good deeds, even though he is gone.
The idea of sadaqah jariyah is understood through the story, and present in the hadith at the back, but it is never mentioned outright. Just as God is used, not the term Allah (swt). As Amir feels denial, frustration, and eventually peace, nothing is really told, it is shown, which really opens the book up to be a tremendous tool in sharing it with children and asking them to discuss what they understand, what they feel, and what they took away from Amir and his Grandpa’s blue jacket story.
The book is available through the publisher Ruqaya’s Bookshelf as well as HERE at Crescent Moon Bookstore where code ISL will save you 10%.