I first read this book in 2004 and it was pretty much my first introduction to what elementary aged/young adult Islamic fiction could and should be. It set the standard and I think subconsciously I’ve held every other Islamic fiction book up to this series as a comparison. I’ve taught it to 4th graders and 5th graders, I’ve purchased the series and left it for the students at every school I’ve ever been a part of, I’ve even exchanged emails with the author with students’ questions and been impressed by her responses. So, after reading so many other books in putting this blog together, I thought it is finally time to revisit a book and series that is dear to my heart, and see if my memories are accurate.
Alhumdulillah, they are.
The book is a bit bumpy at first with the chattiness of the main character Rose, but either like real children, you grow accustomed to her and find her endearing, or the author pulls back as the story progresses and the book finds a more readable and engaging rhythm. Either way, I still felt a pull to keep reading the book, and feel confident that those that read it, and the entire series (I haven’t read the latest book, “Reunion”) are better for it, alhumdulillah.
Nine-year-old Rose is excited that her grandparents, who live next door, are going to be hosting two Saudi Arabian Police Officers who are coming to America to learn English and train with the Arizona Police Department. In anticipation of their arrival Rose and Grandma do what they can to learn about the food, culture and religion. Rose’s dad however, is not comfortable with Abdul and Fahd being so close to his family, and for Rose to be so curious about Islam. Rose works on PLAN after PLAN to try and help her dad and the officers connect, but will it be enough?
WHY I LIKE IT:
The book actually addresses some harsh realities of how Muslims are perceived, yet does so in a tender way. When Rose wants to go to the Islamic Center and her father objects, or she talks about Muslims at school and her teachers get mad, it opens the discussion for why people may have negative views of Muslims, how to deal with such negativity and how to move past stereotypes. The book also does a really good job of introducing Islam and Saudi culture to its readers in a fairly non preachy manner. The inner workings of Rose’s family are also surprising raw and relatable. Her Mom is not in the picture and Rose must deal with the stresses of a single parent home, luckily her grandparents are next door, but even then, there are stresses and issues that arise. Rose also deals with a friend moving away, teasing at school, and disappointment.
None, just some of the stereotypes from Rose’s Dad that may introduce some negative views non Muslims have of Muslims, such as: Muslims as terrorists, Muslim’s being abusive and controlling to women, etc.
TOOLS FOR LEADING THE DISCUSSION:
There are a few different versions of the book, mainly just cover changes depending on the publisher, but this version:
has appendixes in the back that include a glossary and recipes and facts about Islam as well as Arizona. The newer version (as pictured at the top of the post) doesn’t include everything and refers those looking for more to see a website. That website however and all other links to online study guides and reader guides are no longer available or now have different owners. I’m not sure what happened to Linda Delgado, and if anyone knows how to contact her, I’m hoping you will let me know.
So as of now there are no links to suggest for teaching the book unfortunately.