Tag Archives: Morals

Burcu: No One Wants to Play with Me! by Nursen Sirin illustrated by Nese Inan

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Burcu: No One Wants to Play with Me! by Nursen Sirin illustrated by Nese Inan

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This 32 page, 9×12 story book, for ages five and up, focuses on character education and is meant to be a relatable story with clear lessons about how to behave and deal with situations in life.  The opening page bullets all the lessons readers should learn from the story and the end of the book offers directions to make a balloon craft.  

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I don’t mind books with lessons and morals so clearly delineated, and I like that the morals come from such an adorable character with a whole cast of supporters, and a number of books to her series.  

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My problem is more the story itself, for a lesson on how to make new friends, and dealing with the universal struggle of moving and feeling like ‘no one wants to play with me.”  The book spends nearly seven pages on Burcu making a surprise breakfast for her family before hearing the news that she is moving because the landlord says they should.

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They pack and move seemingly the same day, and then the point of the book gets going.  Burcu has to say goodbye to her friends and doesn’t feel like even going out at the new house to make new ones.

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Her brother, Alper, has no problem making new friends, and finally Burcu gives it a try.  Only a little girl attempts to get to know her and Burcu dismisses her because she is so young.  She tries to be included with the other children, but they don’t know her and aren’t willing to let her play.

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Burcu finally confides in her dad, that she can’t get anyone except the little girl to play with her.  Her dad encourages her to give the little girl a chance.  Burcu does and finds out they are the same age, she just looks really young, and then all the kids are friends and happy.

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The real hero to me is the little girl, Katherine, who didn’t give up on an ageist Burcu that didn’t want to play with her.  Seems odd that Burcu wanted a friend, and then was arrogant to complain about the one she got.  Plus, I would imagine kids who have moved and don’t have friends, would turn to a book like this for tips and hints, and ways to feel less alone.  The book offers none of that.  It doesn’t tell how finally Burcu makes friends, or gets included, other than it took time.  Which is great, but not exactly helpful if you are five and crying everyday because no one will play with you.

The writing is very dry.  I think it has been translated from Turkish, many of the sentences are passive voice, and the sentences choppy.  The book doesn’t have any glaring errors, it just seems like it would work as a story time, or as part of a lesson, and  maybe once as a bedtime story, but not a book that kids will clamor to hear over and over again.

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There is nothing Islamic in the story, but most of the major online Islamic bookshops carry the Burcu series, so I would imagine the authors, and publishers are Muslim.

Overall, the book sets off to teach a great lesson, but falls a bit short.  The illustrations are adorable and the large size and playful font are very well done, the diction, not so much.  The books are reasonably priced and if you see a title that works for a lesson, or theme you are discussing, I think you can make the books work.  If you are looking for a book to read over and over to your kids, you might, however, be disappointed.

 

The Apple Tree by Mariam Al-Kalby, Illustrated by Yee Von Chan

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I have been looking forward to obtaining this book for a while (it was back ordered on Amazon) and over all it was worth the price $16, and worth the wait.  The illustrations are absolutely beautiful.  At story time the kids constantly urge me to take my time in turning the page.  They aren’t incredibly detailed, just very whimsical and engaging, that you want to take a peek and stay a while to play with little Shaima.

The book’s moral comes from two hadiths (sayings of Prophet Muhammad (p.b.u.h.)) “When a Muslim plants a tree, whatever is eaten from it is charity from him, and whatever stolen is charity, and whatever is subtracted from it is charity” (Sahih Muslim), and ” There is no Muslim who plants a tree or sows seeds and then a bird, or a person, or an animal eats from it except that it is regarded as charity for him” (Sahih Bukhari).

The main character, Shaima, wakes up one morning at fajr to find her Baba planting an apple tree.  The two discuss what “reward of charity” means and the value of sharing.  Time presumably passes, although the tree does seem to grow and produce incredibly fast.  Once the apples are ready to be picked, Shaima finds everyone taking her apples: a little boy, a squirrel and her babies, some birds, what can she do?  The solution is both a lesson and inspiration for the character and the reader and makes for a fun book to get the discussion rolling on a wide variety of topics: patience, charity, sharing, generosity, humility and more, alhumdulillah.

The book is not AR, but is relevant to 4 year old children and up.  The book is hardcover and 32 pages. There are six Arabic words which are explained in the glossary and do not impede the story in any way.