Tag Archives: training

My Baba is the Best by Bachar Houli illustrated by Debby Rahmalia

My Baba is the Best by Bachar Houli illustrated by Debby Rahmalia


This 32 page horizontal picture book by an Australian footballer starts out much like a list detailing why a little girl loves her Baba, after a few pages though of more superficial delights, the book gets deeper.  It shows the family making duas at bedtime, going to the masjid on Fridays, it even gives a little insight into Eid and fasting before it then takes readers on a camping trip.  There isn’t really a story or plot, but the bouncing around fits the narrator’s point of view and will appeal to the intended target audience.  The book is mainstream published by Penguin in Australia, so I absolutely love the inclusion of Islam, the mom in hijab, the dad’s beard and the love shown between the little girl and her Baba.  Sometimes celebrity books feel a little forced, but having never heard of this athlete, I still found the book incredibly sweet and joyful, and the illustrations by a Muslim illustrator a great amplification of the simple heartfelt text.

The book starts with a little girl rushing to give her Baba a hug on the field as fans cheer in the background.  After all her Baba gives the best hugs, it then mentions that he is always doing something and shows him washing his boat and jumping on a trampoline with the little girl and her younger sister.  The trio garden, exercise, ride bikes, train and go fishing. They also watch movies at the theater or at home with the whole family. At night Baba reads special prayers to protect them while they sleep.

On Fridays, the family goes to the mosque for prayers, and the most special time is when they all go for Eid in their best clothes.  They listen to the imam and give donations to those in need. They open presents and after fasting they eat Lebanese pizza before going to visit teta and jeddo.

The best time is when they go camping.  They all set up the tent, and get sticks to roast marshmallows.  They even see kangaroos eating dinner before heading back to eat theirs.  On many of the pages it is just the girl and her Baba, but even when the whole family is present, the focus is on the strong relationship between the two.

The book is very endearing and as a daddy’s girl myself, I love seeing the relationship unfold on the pages with big things, and little things, fun things, and reflective things, and from the little girl’s point of view.  The book is not readily available in the United States, I purchased mine from Book Depository, where they offer free shipping.

Running Overload by Jake Maddox illustrated by Tina Francisco

Running Overload by Jake Maddox illustrated by Tina Francisco


This 72  page graphic novel features a female Muslim protagonist trying to balance her desire to be a great cross country runner and the rest of her life.  Meant for 3rd graders, the lessons are applicable and relevant for readers in middle school as well.



Nimo Mohamed has made the varsity track team, and is determined to keep up with the older girls.  She is training too hard which her coaches and parents warn her against, but she doesn’t listen.  As a result she is lying to her family about what she is doing, her grades are suffering, and her body is exhausted to say the least.  After coming dead last in a meet, getting a D on an English test, and injuring her knee, the truth comes out and her dad has her quit the team.  Can she convince him to give her one more chance? Can she learn to pace herself?



There is nothing Islamic in the book except for the main character’s family.  The women wear hijab when out, not at home and they have Islamic sounding names.  I like that she is modestly dressed when she runs and that no one seems to care that she is Muslim.  This story is not about her faith, it is a universal story of balance, and the character highlighting the moral is Muslim.  Her parents are divorced, but are on the same page regarding her running and school balancing act, and they come together to support her.  I also like that the book is a sports book and has a female girl of color as the lead.  There is a lot of very intentional diversity in the book and it is refreshing to see.

There are questions at the end, and running vocabulary and tips for running as well.






The book wouldn’t lend itself well to a book club, but would definitely provide one-on-one discussion opportunities.  The short linear story is all about imparting teachable moments on the reader, which isn’t a bad thing, but I think the real strength is that the book is one of a larger series that should really be in every classroom and library to show how balance and integrity and strength and diversity are values that we need to hear over and over, not just in one running book, but from a lot of different sources.