Tag Archives: egypt

Snatched Asmaa Hussein illustrated by Svaitoslav Diachyk

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Snatched Asmaa Hussein illustrated by Svaitoslav Diachyk

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The premise is simple, Omar ate something that didn’t belong to him, and the guilt is weighing on him heavily.  The beauty of the book is how, with his mom’s help and his own determination, he makes things right.  

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Set in Egypt, Omar eats the doorman’s baqlawa, and while he knows he shouldn’t have, he doesn’t know what to do about it.  The doorman, Amo Mohamed, blames the cat and Omar tries to move past the theft.  But the guilt builds up and he even dreams about baqlawa, eventually telling his mom so he can start to fix things.  

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After isha prayer, the two of them make some new baqlawa.  I love that the mom doesn’t get mad, but she is firm that while, “we made the baqlawa together,”  she tells him, “you have to talk to Amo Mohamed on your own.”  

Omar confesses his crime to the door man and apologizes, Amo Mohamed in turn apologizes to the cat, and all enjoy a piece of baqlawa together with smiles.

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The last page in the 38 page book is a glossary and is headed by a hadith by Prophet Muhammad, “Be conscious of God wherever you are.  Follow the bad deed with a good one to erase it, and engage others with beautiful character.”

The illustrations aren’t amazing, but they are sufficient and help walk the reader through the story.  I like that the mom covers when out and about, but not in the home.  The story is great for ages 4 and up, but the amount of text on the page and book length might make independent reading more geared to second and third graders. 

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The book would work for muslim and non-muslim children a like and does a good job of showing a universal situation in a culturally rich environment.

 

 

 

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Magid Fasts for Ramadan by Mary Matthews illustrated by E. B. Lewis

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Magid Fasts for Ramadan

The intent of this 48 page chapter book is good, however, a few things rubbed me the wrong way about how Ramadan and Islam are presented.

Nearly eight-year-old Magid wants to fast on the first day of Ramadan, but everyone says he is much to young.  He decides to deceive everyone and fast anyway.  I’m actually okay with this main story line, as I could genuinely see a child wanting to do it so much they would lie about it.  The author even has the family sit down after the truth comes out and discuss how honesty is important and this is not how Ramadan should be celebrated.  Lesson learned for Magid and the reader, right? Nope, the author kind of blows it and takes it to the other extreme.

Magid’s sister Aisha is twelve and is “forced” to fast so she isn’t the only girl not fasting at her all girl’s school in Egypt.  What a sad reason to fast, The whole reason Magid wants to fast is to be a “truly obedient Muslim” which sounds great on the surface, but it get’s repeated so often that Magid at one point is judging a classmate who isn’t fasting and isn’t always at Jummah (Friday) prayers.  The parents decide at the end to let Aisha fast until school is out, hence shortening the day for appearance purposes, and Magid can fast til lunch.   He is told he can fast full days when the days are shorter.  Again a really odd reason to wait when fasting has been prescribed for us, to make it an issue of convenience.

So aside from the very negative view of Ramadan and the kids rejoicing at the end that they don’t “have” to fast, the lying, the disobeying your mother, and the judgmental laden diction of being truly obedient, the book does cover a lot of ground well.  The book shows the characters doing wudu and praying, it shows them trying to be kind to one another, it talks about how the Quran was revealed in the month of Ramadan and it does have a plot.

The water color illustrations are nice, and I also like how it showed a bit of Egyptian culture with the lanterns, singing, and food.  Interestingly the author says it is harder for Muslim’s in America to fast, but elsewhere says that Aisha has to watch the girls at school not fasting, eat lunch.

I really wouldn’t recommend this book, for the intended audience of 3rd through fifth graders I think it would do more harm than good in promoting Islamic values in Muslim children and in showing non-Muslims what Ramadan means to Muslims.