This story has a good moral, but the path there is a little twisted. A village is annoyed by a man with awful manners and when he leaves for vacation, a clever boy convinces everyone to teach him a lesson and get him to change his ways when he returns. They replant his field, paint his house, and rearrange his furniture to convince him upon his return that this is not his village or home or fields.
When he does come back, he is confused and sad that he doesn’t know where he comes from, at which time the village tells him what they did, and agree to put everything back if he promises to change.
The 32 page brightly illustrated book tells an Afghani tale in a western setting. The chunky cartoonish illustrations show great imagination and encourage the reader to look at the effects of bad manners in a different way. The clever boy, also goes about things in an extreme manner, which hopefully gets the reader to question if it was successful and perhaps how they would have handled the situation. Another book that urges, thinking outside the box, with some discussion and reflection. There is some lying, breaking and entering and other questionable actions, but I think most kids will realize it to be a silly story to teach a lesson, and all is forgiven because in the end they did live happily ever after.
The book is not AR but easily works for Kindergarten to 3rd grade. There is nothing in the text or illustrations that suggests the book has any religious or cultural ties.
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.
The book starts with a brief introduction to Kiraman Katibin, the two recording angels, and reminds parents that before the age of maturity only the good deeds are recorded. That being established the book then works to develop the conscientiousness of having all of our actions recorded, so that we train ourselves from a young age to be mindful of what we do and say.
Following a precious little boy with fantastic hair, and a bit of a mischievous smile, the reader learns how we each have an angel on our right and left side. We learn how sharing makes the angel on the right happy, as does stopping ourselves from getting mad. We learn that its the little things and the big things, the stuff we do in public and the stuff that we think no one sees that get written down. The angel on the left notes down all the mistakes too, and these make the angel sad. But alhumdulillah apologies and forgiveness can rub away good deeds, guiding us on the path to jannah, inshaAllah.
The beautiful full color pictures are beyond adorable, and the rhyming couplets work perfect for preschoolers. The font, the playfulness of the text on each of the 24 pages, the hardbound book and the 10 x 10 size make this book absolutely perfect for books shelves and for story time. There is a glossary at the back that defines not just the Arabic words, but also some of the english vocabulary words that might need some explaining: glee, deeds, angels. My only complaint is that there isn’t a whole series of books by this author and illustrator coaching and guiding our little muslims in manners and basic belief.
This slim, paperback book, is actually really sweet and colorful. It doesn’t look like much at just 14 pages, but the minimal text conveys a good message of helping elders in the home, and can easily be extended to helping those in the community. I think this is a great book for 3 to 5 year old. Little ones will get ideas on what they can do, and new readers will feel accomplished when they turn the last page.
Little brothers, Muhammed and Musa, are waiting for their grandparents to arrive and are confused when their daddy reminds them to be helpful, since they are little and their grandparents are adults. The parents explain how getting old is hard to the boys and give them ideas of how they can help. Once they arrive, the boys spring in to action by helping them unpack, getting Grandma her walking stick, and even helping grandpa find his missing teeth. They especially love when they help put out the prayer rugs for salat.
The pictures are simple yet well done. The women wear hijab, not just the mom and grandma, but the doctor too. Gender roles are depicted well too, the dad takes his parents grocery shopping, is shown helping in the kitchen, and serves the tea.
I really think if you have elder family, it is a great book to introduce what changes and what responsibilities the little ones can help with. With my own children it was a good reminder and conversation starter that they need to keep toys off the floor so no one trips, they need to listen the first time to whatever they are asked by the elders to do, and that they need to sometimes even help them walk, or slow their gate. If you don’t have grandparents in the home, it can extend to people at the mosque, with kids helping get chairs, or even at the grocery store in being mindful of holding doors open and helping return carts.
Somehow between child number one and child number four I had forgotten the utter impracticality of toddler board books with flaps to lift. It is great and all to find a book that is solidly constructed to withstand tantrums, hunger, teething, and jumping on, but then to add thin delicate flaps to engage the child renders the book readable for about three days. Ok, the time it takes for any given toddler to systematically tear off every flap is unique for each child, but my 18 month old handles his siblings chapter books with more care than he can muster for the overpowering temptation of a slightly raised flap of paper begging to be tugged on. Needless to say, all 16 pages of the book are no longer in pristine condition, alhumdulillah.
Also, Alhumdulillah that is a decent book of introducing islamic phrases to small children and hence the repetition of the book means that even with the missing flaps and torn off words, the book can still be figured out and read. A boy and his mom journey up a snow covered mountain as the little boy tries to learn what to say to go to Jannah (heaven). As he says islamic phrases like AstagfirAllah, SubhanAllah, and JazakAllah Khayr, his mother tells him when those phrases are used and what they mean, until the boy figures out he must say and believe the Shahada (there is only one God, and the last Prophet is Prophet Muhammad (as)). The sayings are written in Arabic script, and English script under the flap, and the back of the book has a glossary of the Islamic words. The language is simple and encouraging for small children and a good way to reinforce the words we say to remember Allah throughout our day. The characters have no faces and with a snow filled landscape the pictures aren’t overly engaging, but what is there, is done well, and allows the text to take center stage in the story. Those flaps though….