Akin to her beloved Yasmin series, author Saadia Faruqi offers up a new set of books similarly rich with culture, family mishaps, problem solving, and fun for early readers. This is the first book in the series, with three more announced that follow the Pakistani American family, and seem to perhaps even connect to Yasmin (based on the cover pictures). The books are not religious, Ali’s mom wears hijab, and there is an Eid title in the series, but having only seen this particular book I’m not sure if it is faith detailed or not. Over three chapters and 32 brightly illustrated pages, second grader Ali Tahir, along with his little brother and Dada head to the South Asian store to find some snacks and ends up having to find little Fateh. With a family portrait and Urdu words defined at the start, the story concludes with some jokes, some details about traditional desi snacks, questions to consider and info about the Muslim author and Muslim illustrator.
It has finally stopped raining and Dada needs snacks, so he puts Fateh in the stroller and the three of them head off to the market. Dada is from Pakistan and he and Dadi live with Ali’s family. Once they make their way to the store, they take in the sights and start looking for Dada’s favorite chips. Ali has to let go of Fateh’s hand to catch a spicy chips display from falling over, and that quickly Fateh disappears.?
I love that the Yasmin series is such a staple and so widely beloved that a similar series with a boy protagonist is now going to grace our classroom, school and public libraries. This particular book might only have a #Muslimintheillustrations, but it normalizes religious garb, cultural traditions, and larger themes that unite us all in a fun, age appropriate book that will get early readers smiling and brown Muslim kids glad that yet another mirror exists for them and a window for those around them.