A mishmash of young teen characters come together to form the Muslim All-Stars, the first book in a new series that will hopefully stick with the same set of characters doing good deeds in their community. With only 67 pages and colorful illustrations of a variety of sizes scattered through out, the book is enticing, but not memorable. I never bonded with any of the characters, and really couldn’t even list them all or identify them in the pictures. Hopefully the series will continue and their individual personalities will take shape. There are a few plot holes: how did Leila have a note from her parents if she just read the advert, how did none of the kids know each other or recognize each other if they all went to the same school, why would something done outside of school warrant recognition in school? And some random unresolved ideas: the Polonsky’s harbored a burglar or was it a rumor, why did Mr. Polonsky call Leila three times just to tell her to go? Despite it all however, it is overall a fun book for both girls and boys in grades 2 through 4.
Mr. Polonsky’s wife is coming home after having surgery and their home is a mess. Overwhelmed by the prospect of cleaning it, he gets the brilliant idea of hiring kids to do it, for cheap. A handful of kids, all Muslim, show up to do the work. But even overcoming Mr. Polonsky’s rotten attitude, the mountains of rubbish, the menagerie of critters that have taken up residence in the home, and a crazy washing machine, is not enough to prove themselves in the face of Mrs. Polonsky’s anger when she gets home.
WHY I LIKE IT:
I love that within the Muslim group there are kids of different ethnic and cultural backgrounds and abilities; one kid is a convert, one is Pakistani, one is good with machines, one has Aspergers, one seems to get in trouble a lot. They all answer the advert for different reasons, but after some convincing of sorts, they all agree to help the Polonskys because it is the right thing to do. MashaAllah the girls wear hijab, they break for salat as a group, verify the food is halal, and generally just work well together.
TOOLS FOR LEADING THE DISCUSSION:
There is nothing online. It is a book that if you recommend it to a child you simply would want to follow up with them by asking about what they thought about how the kids were treated, what they would do if Mr. Polonsky treated them that way, if they were surprised by the ending etc..
The book is written in British English and American kids shouldn’t have trouble understanding what is going on, but might need some help figuring out some of the words, such as rubbish, bin liners, skip, etc..