This 40 page book caught my attention because I have a son named Mustafa, and the illustrations looked endearing and fun. The author/illustrator was inspired to write the story when she visited Croatia and saw the resilience of the children. She also remarks on her website, that children in new places can all relate to the nuanced uneasiness and gradual fitting in process that takes place universally (http://marielouisegay.com/blog/).
The text is prose-like as young Mustafa ventures from his apartment each day to the park nearby. He notices things he has never seen before and compares them to the destruction he recalls of his homeland. He also finds things that remind him of home and things that look familiar. From little ladybugs and a heart-shaped leaf, to the changing leaf colors and kids dressed up in costumes, there is so much to take in and understand.
As the days go on, he begins to wonder if he is invisible. Finally, a little girl with a cat makes a small beckoning gesture to him that doesn’t need language to be understood, and just like that, the world gets a little more welcoming. This gentle story shows what being new can feel like, and reminds us that sometimes all it takes is a simple act of kindness to change so much.
The book mentions that Mustafa came on a long journey, but does not specify where he has come from. He draws his house being bombed in the dirt with a stick and mentions loud noises and fire. The mother wears hijab, and obviously his name would identify them as Muslims, but other than that there is no reference or mention of religion.
Overall, the book would be great for ages 4-8. The passages are a little long, but with the illustrations and relatable concepts, I think children will reflect on what the author is trying to convey, and be able to process what Mustafa has been through, and how hard even the littlest things can be in a new place.
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.
The version I have is called Allah Created Everything, but it seems that the more common edition is God Created Everything, regardless the book is beautiful, timeless, and a perfect book for story time with the little ones. The simple words and beautiful illustrations are the perfect level for Daycare through Kindergarten students. They can gaze at the pictures and absorb the simple text, and even participate in a powerful conversation after about how Allah/God created us all, and everything around us.
The Blades of Grass,
The Oceans and Seas ,
The Beautiful Trees,
The Majestic Mountains That We See,
Allah Created Everything.
The Birds, The Spiders and Bees,
Allah Created Everything.
The Clouds, Tornadoes, Volcanoes,
Lightning Shattering the Skies.
People of the World,
And Colors We See,
Allah Created Them
Just like You and Me.