This book published in 1999 was one of the first books I remember reading regularly to my Sunday school class, and reading it now as a mum myself makes it warm me all the more. In 34 warmly colored illustrations, this 8×8 book shares the story of how a little boy sees his mom. How impressed he is by her and how truly he loves her for all that she does, all that she is, and all that she shares with him.
As the story progresses from what she does within the home and family, to what she does for others, the little boy also imagines himself all grown up and his mum as a nan. He imagines that she will need him and he is ready and willing for when that time comes, to take care of her.
The book and illustrations target ages 3-6. Written in rhyming couplets, four lines per page, the story moves at a steady pace and the pictures are detailed and familiar enough to engage most kids at bed time or in small settings.
There are little Islamic specific tidbits sprinkled throughout that give parents or readers a chance to use it as a more specific teachable moment. Saying “salam, reading Quran, thanking Allah for the food they have, praying salat, giving charity, visiting the elderly, celebrating eid, obeying her, and caring for her in her old age to achieve jannah, inshaAllah.
Whether you know a little bit of Arabic or none at all, this incredibly repetitive counting book will have you able to count to ten in Arabic by the end of its 32 pages. Even if you know how already, your little one will enjoy figuring out why the main character Jouha can’t figure out how many camels he has in his caravan. While Jouha thinks, it has to do with whether one runs off while he is riding, and comes back when he is walking, hopefully by the second or third time, most kids will realize that he isn’t lucky or unlucky, he is just forgetting to count the one he is riding atop of. Probably good for ages 3-7, the book is silly in its repetition, and the beautiful painted illustrations bring the characters emotions to life.
There isn’t anything Islamic, but it is definitely cultural as it retells an Middle Eastern folk tale. The character, a wise fool, is also seen as Goha in Egypt and similar to Nasredeen Hodja in Turkey, all this background is stared at the beginning of the book. There is also information to hear the story online in a read along program http://www.av2books.com, or to hear the author say the arabic numbers at http://www.margaretreadmacdonald,com.
This rhyming 32 page book follows around a small girl, “about the same age as you,” who seems to make a mess every where she goes. She never lies or even responds to the accusations of her unintentional messes, as she gets caught each time by someone in her family who points their finger and identifies the clues that led them to their answer. Luckily, she uses this pattern to her advantage as she cleans up and makes her family a card resulting in hugs, kisses, and love.
Written for younger kids (4-6), the book is bright and colorful and very well done. Even two and three year olds will enjoy the sing-song rhythm and chunky engaging illustrations. The pages are thick and the binding solid, especially for a soft back book. The 10 x 10 square size works well for story time and bedtime alike. However, because the text is incorporated into the illustrations, if you are reading to a group, you will want to read it a few times before you present. Looking at it straight on, the word order is much more clear and if you are reading it with emerging readers, I would recommend pointing to the words as you read, so as to help guide your listeners. The fonts get a little crazy, which is part of the fun, but again may require some assistance to help the younger readers decipher the words. Older independent readers (up to age 7 perhaps) might like the slight challenge of figuring out what word comes next, so that the story makes sense.
The mom wears hijab and that is the only islamic reference or overt implication. A fun book that thus far with multiple readings has yet to get monotonous and boring, yay!
Harris J’s song by the same name gets stuck in my head because it seems like “Salam Alaikum,” is the only words in the song, so when I heard that he had written a book based on the lyrics, I was a little skeptical. But, total credit to the illustrator, the book is adorable, and the lyrics aren’t too bad either.
Thirty big pages, that radiate with light and happy faces and a big clear font that celebrates peace, love, and coming together. The words “Salam Alaikum” is a Muslim greeting, but there is nothing overtly religious. There is one muhajaba that appears on a few pages, but with the content matter, there is a lot of diversity in the book. A variety of skin tones, ages, clothing, genders, sizes, all come together to hold hands and work for peace.
The content isn’t ground breaking, but the number of words on the page are good for 3-6 year olds. And it does introduce that the world is more fun when we all work together and are kind. Kids will like the illustrations and return for them undoubtedly. It is hard to know if the books these days are truly better, or are just done better. But, while I checked this one out from the library, I think I just might want a copy of my own.
This book is beautifully done, with its hard back binding and happy little illustrations. Everything has a happy face drawn on. The topic is Allah, and one can predict what the content is, there is nothing surprising in the rhyming pages that stress how Allah created everything and Allah is the one, singular.
What I found nice, and in many ways expanded the audience from just being for small toddlers, but to elementary age Muslim children as well, is the reassuring tone in the second half of the book that Allah is always there for you, no matter what.
The names of Allah in English are used and highlighted in a different colored text with a list of the Arabic and English meaning in the back.
The book is 32 pages and meanders around in a light lilting manner. Its simple illustrations and warmth make it fun at both story time and bedtime, and offer plenty of places to organically pause and get your child’s feedback, thoughts, and understanding.
What a great premise for a children’s book, a little boy, Musa, does not want to clean his room, and imagines all the better things he will get to do in Jannah (heaven) instead. Luckily for his room, his sister comes to help him tidy it up, as well as his mom and dad.
The rhyme scheme and the kids’ imaginations at how wonderful Jannah will be, go hand in hand and make the book silly and fun. The cartoonish illustrations also help sneak in messages of listening to your parents, cleaning your room, being kind to your siblings, helping each other, and ultimately doing things even if they are hard or boring to please Allah swt.
The book is a 28 page, 8×8, paperback. The price is a little steep, $12, for its structure, in my opinion and is meant for Muslim readers. The only real issue I had is when the mom threatens to flounce Musa. “Stop jumping and bouncing, or you’ll get a flouncing,” seems excessive to me, and not consistent with how loving the family is throughout the rest of the book. It was probably included to maintain the rhyme scheme, but I took it to be a threat of violence, which I’m not ok with.
The pictures show the mom in hijab, the word Jannah instead of heaven is used, the characters’ names are Islamic and Allah is mentioned throughout. Musa’s thoughts on the last page are particularly sweet (see picture below). I plan to read this to a group of kids at story time and will just omit the flouncing line, as it does well in appealing to ages 4 and up. Three year olds may not understand it, but because of the rhyming, I think they will be equally entertained.
I feel like I preordered this book years ago, I have been so anxious to see what all the hype was about. When it arrived I tore open the box and read it on the short walk from the mailbox to the house, read it again standing in the kitchen, left it for a few days, and reread it now to write the review. SubhanAllah, it didn’t disappoint.
It reads, as intended, as a powerful letter to a child. There aren’t long winded morals or overly fancy words. It is direct in its many ways of telling you, that you matter, where you come from matters, that your foundation matters. That you are strong, and beautiful, always, even when the world may not think so. That you are Muslim, that you are from Allah, that you speak in Arabic and Spanish and dreams. The verses become poetry that dance on the page with the illustrations telling the story as powerfully as the words. The words in turn float and lilt around images as old as time and as innocent as dancing in the wind.
The 32 pages fly by that you can’t help but read it again, slowly, savoring all the harnessed power and hope of a multi culture world, a multi cultural faith, that is truly beautiful. Recognizing the humanity that we all share, yet feeling pride in your own unique skin is a balancing act that doesn’t need to be apologized for, and should be celebrated.
I love that this book exists. That it is available on Amazon. That it is bold and colorful and hardbound, and so well done. There is diversity in Islam. There is diversity of belief in Indigenous populations, that there is so much inspiration in the world around us and in our past. Are all messages that come through even for the youngest readers.