Another book in the Zaahir and Jamel the Camel series, this book explains to children how to behave at the mosque. The pictures are colorful and busy, engaging children 2 and a half and up. Younger children can enjoy the bolder aspects, and older children will enjoy the details. Some of the text seems to hide behind the geometric shapes, but I would imagine the story is usually read aloud and not independently, so it isn’t too much of a problem.
Just like when Zaahir and Jamel went for Hajj, the short rhyming sentences go step by step on what to expect as the story follows Zaahir and Jamel through the process: they take off their shoes, they make wudu, they stand for salat, they make du’aa, they stay quiet and respectful.
The book is 23 pages, but the story is really only 17 pages. The story is followed by Games and Activities including a quiz and a crossword puzzle, and then a Glossary. The quiz is great when reading aloud to a group or even just at bed time to make sure the children understood the key points.
The book is small and rectangular, which makes it work better in smaller groups (6.6 x 9.5), but for a book that cost less than a dollar online, it really should be in every child’s library. Its a great review for little ones before Jumaah or just as a gentle reminder that praying in the mosque is something that all Muslims have in common. It also works well for parents of non muslim kids that might be coming to the mosque and want to know what to expect, and how to act.
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.
I picked this book up on a whim to go with my “being healthy” or “community helpers” story time themes. I had never heard about it and the pictures, while colorful, aren’t very detailed or engaging. I was hoping the rhyming couplets and familiar concept of going to the doctor would at least review some key concepts in an Islamic manner. Alhumdulillah, the book not only met my expectations, but exceeded them.
The first fabulous surprise is that the Doctor is female, not that it should be an issue, but it is nice to find books that definitely don’t assume a familiar stereotype. The second surprise is that at 28 pages, the rhymes never seem forced or awkward, it flows very nicely, mashaAllah. I read the book to 3,4, and 5 year old students and it managed to keep everyone’s attention. The students got concerned when Sajaad worried if he would have a shot, they tried to remember the name for “stethoscope,” they enjoyed learning the dua for being sick and the dua to make for those that are sick, and they even liked that they often also get lollipops when they leave the doctor’s office.
Overall the book was a good review of what happens at the doctors office in an Islamic tone. It would work well to reassure children that might be nervous about what they might experience. It was interesting to watch the kids “read” the book after story time to each other imitating a teacher. For most students it is a topic that they feel mastery over and you could see their confidence when they retold the story.
I’ll be keeping my eye out for other books in the Mini Mu’min Du’a Series to see if they are of similar quality and can serve in a similar capacity in the library.