This book was definitely worth the wait, alhumdulillah. For all the complaining I do about books regurgitating facts, or Ramadan joy books leaving out the religion, and presentation feeling like it is more for non Muslims than for our own little children; this book does a great job of sharing key points about Ramadan with authenticity and heart that Muslims and non Muslims alike will benefit from the light story, engaging and adorable illustrations, and Muslim child centering. This 32 page book works well for preschool to early elementary readers and listeners at bedtime, at story time, and in settings were introductions to Ramadan are shared.
I was a little nervous that this book was framed as a child’s first fast, but a few pages in my concerns disappeared. Little Deenie knows what Ramadan is, her family is encouraging her to try and fast for a few hours, and she knows that she can’t hide in a cave and sleep like a hibernating bear because Ramadan is so much more than going without food and drink.
I love the shelving of tempting snacks and bad habits of unkind words, waste, impatience, and that little changes lead to big changes one at a time: kindness, love, attention, gratitude.
Deenie goes a little longer each day, and her tummy rumbles, but where she once felt lonely in the quite spaces, she is finding new things that otherwise would have been missed. She helps the coach off the pitch at soccer, the family connects without screens, the “ordinary feels extra-ordinary.”
The mosque opens its arms for tarawih, and extra prayers are “a chance to look inwards and upwards.” A chance to belong. There is sadaqah and Zakat, and being thankful, learning about traditions and connecting with others. There are non Muslim friends changing a lunch date to a gallery stroll, and realizing the kindness is not required, but appreciated none-the-less. The human body is amazing, and Deenie is growing stronger with each Ramadan day. Eid is a time of celebration, but Ramadan is missed, and we are not the same people we were before the blessed month..
The book starts with an Author’s Note and ends with a Glossary. The hardback 11 x 9 book is a great size to allow kids to truly enjoy the sweet illustrations that add to the text and bring the feelings to life. There are a variety of skin tones, mobilities, clothing styles and head coverings, or not covered characters shown. There are so many smiling faces, and relatable scenes. This book is really well done and an absolute joy to read and share.
I personally needed to see that my expectations for a Ramadan read were not unrealistic, and this book alhumdulillah, not only proved that good representation can be beautiful and heartfelt and unapologetic, but raised the bar. I can’t wait to share this for our Masjid Ramadan story time, I only wish it was easier to obtain in the USA. I preordered mine from Book Depository, but since publication the price has gone up, inshaAllah if we all show our support, local stockists will find a way (www.allenandunwin.com).