This is a great book that works on a variety of levels. Leena is fasting the whole day for the first time, but is also invited to a friends party. Her mom gives her the choice to fast or not as it is not yet mandatory at her age, and she decides to fast AND go to the party. The story takes you through the activities of the party and how some parts are easy and some harder for the fasting Leena. The end has a wonderful surprise for both Leena and the reader as the author gives us all reason to hope that respect among friends exists, and that in fact one can stay true to their beliefs and have support from their friends.
This book is great conversation starter for older kids who maybe have tried to fast and felt the temptations of day-to-day life in a non -Islamic environment. With an AR level of 4.2 and 34 pages the story is strong enough to hold a fourth graders attention and get them to analyze what they would do in a similar situation. Although the book is about Ramadan and some facets about how fasting is done, what it means, and why Muslims do it, are sprinkled in, the story isn’t overly religious in nature. The characters are simply Muslim, they pray, they thank Allah, they wear hijab, they make duaas and they also go to friend’s parties. I think non-Muslims would benefit from this book and see the beauty of diversity as Leena and her friends support one another. The pictures also do a wonderful job of depicting the story: the characters are warm and happy, some cover some do not, they eat chocolate pudding and Baklava and the reader sees how a Muslim family is just like any other family.
The added beauty of this book is that it also works for story time. The younger ones may or may not understand the potential stress of being the only Muslim at a party, let alone being the only one fasting, but they do understand that Leena wanted to eat and drink and she remembered that when her little sister wanted her dessert. They also understand how sometimes it is hard to do what is right, but inshaAllah the reward is sweet indeed.