Tag Archives: Rhyme

Before Birth, Beyond Life: A Muslim Mother’s Ode by Zenubia Arsalan illustrated by Heshan Gunasekara

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Before Birth, Beyond Life: A Muslim Mother’s Ode by Zenubia Arsalan illustrated by Heshan Gunasekara

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This 24 page book written in rhyme explains with love and Islamic oversight the circle of life.  From before birth and what happens after death, the tone and images of the book really are very beautiful and dream like.  The author suggests the book for ages 6-9, but I think even toddlers will enjoy the poetry and illustrations.

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The book is told from a mother to her child explaining that she is the answer to her  prayers, but that there is the One, the Creator, who knows and loves her even more.

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It details that everything about her is perfect and exact according to the will of Allah swt, even before her birth Allah knows and has decreed everything.

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Once born, your mom loves and prays and watches you grow, but at an appointed time you, like all of us will leave this world for the next.

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And that in the afterlife, inshaAllah once again we will be reunited.

Children are rarely sad when loved ones pass away, often pointing out that they are with Allah Subhanawatala now, and this book stems from that peace and comfort in knowing there is a world beyond this one.  Not just for children, this book would make a perfect gift for expectant mothers or as a reminder for older kids in families suffering from loss.

I have the paperback 9 x 6 size book as I’m here in the US, but a larger hardback version exists elsewhere and I think the illustrations would benefit from the larger size.  Also, the pictures are a shoutout to Dubai and I think kids who have been there or live there will equally enjoy the skyline on a number of the pages.

There is a talking points ebook for the book that you can get for free at https://littlemutaqeen.com/talkingpointsbefore/ that will assist you in presenting the information and concepts explored to older and more curious kids.  It talks about how to broach potentially awkward concepts (pregnancy, birth, death) and a maintain body positive message, clarity of heaven and hell, and so much more. I highly recommend it.

 

We’re off to make ‘Umrah by Sana Munshey illustrated by Eman Salem

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We’re off to make ‘Umrah by Sana Munshey illustrated by Eman Salem

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Its surprising how few books about Umrah there are for children.  As a religious act that many children are included in, there really should be more, but alhumdulillah this fun one exists, and conveys the steps of Umrah in rhyming fashion for ages 4 and up.

Told from a little boy’s perspective about his family’s journey, a little history is given, before the major parts of Umrah are explored.  The book prefaces the story with a note to parents and teachers making sure they know the book is a semi-fictional narrative meant to reinforce learning, it isn’t a comprehensive guide. 

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Full page pictures with four line stanza groups detail the steps about the journey and flight to Mecca, including defining and using the arabic words for the talbiyah, putting on ihram, crossing meeqat and praying rak’atayn.  The step-by-step approach is warm and exciting, as the pictures show smiling faces and the words balance information and enthusiasm of being in Mecca for the first time.

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Details about praying, rich and poor, side by side are included, making tawaf, seeing the black stone, seeing Maqam Ibrahim, drinking Zamzam water, a bit of history about Sa’i, and the little boy feeling tired going back and forth between Safa and Marwa are all given in a well paced narrative that is neither rushed, nor overly forced (just a little to keep the rhyme scheme :)).  The steps of Umrah conclude with the family members getting hair cuts and then a quick trip to Madinah.

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There is a glossary at the end of the 32 page book, that is nice for older kids, or as a way to reinforce words used to describe the journey.  I think the strength of the book is really that it shows what to expect during Umrah.  Children about to go will benefit from the mapping of the events and getting a heads up on what awaits them.  Children that have gone will have a handy way to remember what they did.  Children learning about Hajj perhaps, will be able to see how Umrah is shorter and be able to see what the similarities and differences are in a simple manner.  Even children who have no connection yet to Umrah will benefit from the vocabulary and excitement shared in the story.  While the story is aimed at younger kids, even middle elementary age kids will enjoy reading it once or twice.

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The book claims to come with a poster and paper dolls to reinact the steps of Umrah, but I purchased my book second hand and they weren’t present.  Hence, I didn’t comment on their quality, but it sounds like a wonderful supplement to the book.

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The Shapes of Eid According to Me by Samia Khan illustrated by Maria Ahmed

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The Shapes of Eid According to Me by Samia Khan illustrated by Maria Ahmed

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A new Eid book that talks about the religious aspects of Eid, such as praying and going to the mosque, as well as the cultural fun of getting henna done and eating samosas, presented through the shapes a little girl finds all around her.  I liked the idea of presenting Eid through a different lens so to speak, and finally gave in and ordered the $17 hardback 28 page book.  I had touched base with the author before I ordered it to see if it would work for little kids at a masjid story time and she thought it would.  The text is one to four lines per page and rhymes, which allows the little ones to stay engaged.  Some of the lines are forced or seem to break the rhyme scheme, but overall a book about shapes with rhyming lines makes sense.

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The part that I was underwhelmed with was the illustrations.  A book with such a visual concept at its core, to me would require breath taking pictures.  But alas, the pictures seem done with crayon and colored pencils, and on many pages finding the shape is almost difficult for little ones.  The detail is lovely, but the presentation seems lacking. They aren’t bright and shiny, they are muted and flat.  The disconnect of the text and binding with the pictures seemed jarring to me. Perhaps it was just the price point made me expect more, I don’t know.  I like the book, but I don’t love it.  I will be reading it to a group of kids and if they love it I will take back my criticism of the pictures, happily.

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I think the book works up to about 2nd grade, as the geometric shapes are both flat and 3-D, plus getting excited for Eid is something everyone enjoys.  There is no reason this book is limited to Muslim children, but non muslims might be left with more questions after reading it about how Eid is celebrated and what aspects are religiously required and which are just fun customs.  There is a small intro at the beginning to what Eid is, but no glossary or further info is included.