Tag Archives: Story Time

Mikaeel and Malaika: The Quest for Love

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Mikaeel and Malaika: The Quest for Love

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The beautiful hardback book is pricey, but fun.  I didn’t have any expectations when I read it, but now that I’ve read it three times and had my children read it, and my mom a reading specialist/teacher of 45 years read it, I feel pretty confident in saying, its a well-done book.  I think it can get a bit cumbersome when reading aloud, because some lines rhyme and some don’t, but on the third read through I read it to six kids ages two to nine and all throughly enjoyed it.

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The sibling superhero duo are on a quest to find out how to have a pure heart.  They try praying aloud, praying quietly, then they go and talk to the Big Boss, their dad, who speaks in rhyming clues.  The play on words might make the book utterly confusing to children younger than five, or kids of all ages if full attention isn’t being given when read aloud.  For independent readers, they will delight in the words that sound the same yet have completely independent meanings.

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Eventually their quest also takes them to Agent M.O.M who loves them more than anyone else they can imagine, but the big reveal is that Allah (swt) loves us even more.  I don’t know that it is crystal clear that getting a pure heart involves loving the one who loves us most. But, I think by the end, the readers are just entertained that they figured out Allah loves them more than anyone else in the world and is the creator of us all.  The last page has an ayat from Surah Rehman, ” So which of the favors of your Lord would you deny?” Which again adds one more thing to the story about being grateful for all that Allah has given us, keeping it from being a completely streamlined story, but adding to the overall love and appreciation for Allah.

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The illustrations are absolutely beautiful and engaging, the amount of text and the font is perfect for ages 6-8 and the messages is fun and educational.  I hope that there are more in the series, alhumdulillah.

 

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Eid by Maria Migo

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This linear story works great for toddlers that might not remember what a typical eid day is like, or those that do well to know what to expect.  There isn’t a ton of detail, but each page has a sentence or two that move the story from spotting the moon, to putting on new clothes, going for prayers, opening presents, and falling asleep at the end of the day dreaming of next year.

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The gentle pictures convey that Eid is a time of family and love, but don’t necessarily convey that chaos and excitement of the day.  The kids are smiling, as are their parents, and the interaction is playful and safe.  I feel like this book is really ideal for kids with anxiety or that need some reassurance when their daily schedule is altered.  For kindergarten kids and older for the most part, I think they might find the book a glorified timeline list.  After one reading, I’m sure they will not ask for another nor remember much from the 32 page book.

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As seems to be the unwritten rule for books like this, the story is framed through a brother sister duo, however the simplicity of the text doesn’t name them, nor give them any role other then to show what an Eid day is like.  

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I like that they do go to the mosque and that it remarks that it is a little squished.  I also like that it mentions Eid is in summer, and implies that it isn’t always, something that could be discussed with older readers.  It doesn’t clarify if it is Eid al Fitr or Eid al Adha, so it would work for both.  The hard back binding and size are beautiful and ideal for story time and bedtime.  

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It isn’t my favorite book, but there is nothing wrong with it.  The Muslim Children’s Books publisher seems to have changed the cover, I’m not sure if anything else has changed.  The book would be a great addition to a book shelf, or in an Eid basket, but I don’t know that it has the wow-power to be a great stand alone gift or book to generate excitement for the blessed holiday.  

 

 

Raihanna’s First Time Fasting by Qamaer Hassan illustrated by Yasushi Matsuoka

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Raihanna’s First Time Fasting by Qamaer Hassan illustrated by Yasushi Matsuoka

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By this time in Ramadan I’ve read a lot of very similar books that all seem to have slightly different takes on presenting the basics with various degrees of turning them into a fictionalized story.  Each have their own flavor and approach and this story in many ways is for mature little kids and works to bring a slightly deeper understanding to Ramadan and helping the less fortunate.  At 36 pages long, most of the pages are heavy on text, but not overly preachy or dense.  Dialogue and emotion fill the paragraphs, and the book works to establish Raihanna as an actual character, not just a foil to move from one Ramadan fact to another. This is also apparent, as a new Riahanna book has just come out, Raihanna’a Jennah, in making her the lead in a series.

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Raihanna is excited to be fasting this year, after establishing that the crescent must be sighted and that suhoor is the meal to start the fast, Raihanna puts on her hijab to pray.  She asks for forgiveness for being deceitful to get another cookie and asks Allah to make her and her friend able to go ice skating.  At bedtime it also mentions that she says her three kuls before going to sleep.  

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All her excitement starts to falter at school, however, when the teacher hands out chocolate chip cookies for snack and Raihanna has to explain she is fasting.  By the time she gets home from school she is not sure she even knows why she is fasting as her stomach rumbles and her mood is pretty sour.  Mom jumps in to action and takes her to a soup kitchen where the two of them, along with others, serve food to the homeless. 

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At iftaar time Raihanna understands how blessed she is to be surrounded by family and food, and makes a more heartfelt dua.  The book ends with letting the reader know that Raihanna spends the next 29 days loving Ramadan and being appreciative.

I love that it really picks one specific aspect of Ramadan and focuses on it in a tangible way, the poor and hungry.  Yes, she prays and recites Quran and all, but establishes that she probably does that every day out side of Ramadan as well.  I like that the author also shows that it is ok that Ramadan is hard.  There is a bit more insight and understanding in this book than just the typical list of facts.  I think ages kindergarten through 2nd grade, kids that are starting to fast will get the most of it, and relate the most to Raihanna.  It could work for non Muslims, with a bit of context of belief or just read a different Ramadan book first, but the target audience is Muslim kids.

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The beautiful cartoonish pictures are bright and engaging.  I have no idea why it bothered me that the characters wore the same clothes everyday, or at least the two days that the story covers, but it kind of did. I like that the dad sets the table and helps in the food prep and parenting.  The list of family members and all the dishes seems unnecessary, but with the glossary at the back it does offer a bit of culture to be conveyed.  There is also a little reader response at the end.   

Owl & Cat Ramadan Is. . . by Emma Apple

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Seventy-four pages, with about that many words, conveying what Ramadan is, and how it is practiced to the youngest of listeners. Emma Apple once again in her simple, yet colorful drawings of Owl and Cat holds toddlers’ interest as she effectively conveys the feeling of what Ramadan is like to muslim and non muslim children.  With so many factual based books about Ramadan and how it is practiced, this nice change of pace shows a lot of the feels and activities in an incredibly streamlined way.

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The book starts with an opening page that tells about Ramadan before establishing the rhythm of each page starting with “Ramadan is…” and then concluding the sentence with one, two or four words to describe the blessed month.

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The illustrations show the two characters doing the things mentioned with their little owl and cat friends, praying, eating, learning, taking naps, etc.. The book is heartfelt, funny, and informative with its sparse wording and simplicity.

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I was thrilled to find it in the public library, and glad to know that there are now more books in the series, alhumdulillah, as well as a workbook to accompany this one.

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Ramadan by Hannah Eliot illustrated by Rashin

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A beautifully illustrated board book about Ramadan came out in April just in time for Ramadan.  The 24 pages tell basic facts about Ramadan, introduce readers to Arabic vocabulary of suhoor, iftar and Eid al Fitr, and conveys concepts about fasting.  It explains that Ramadan is praying, and family, and helping others.  It never strays from appealing to toddlers and preschoolers, which makes the book a great choice for little ones.

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I wish that it included something about Allah, or the Quran, but it doesn’t and as its a Simon and Schuster published book it is probably intentional as to keep it open to both Muslim and non Muslim children.  The month is referred to as a special month, but doesn’t tell why it is special other than it being a time to fast.  It says we fast to know how the poor feel and to appreciate what we have.  There is nothing about religion mentioned out right, the words Islam and M  cccuslims don’t even appear in the book.

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I love that it mentions that while we are fasting we still go to work and school.  And I love that it mentions Eid as a time of gifts and sweets and praying.  The main take-a-ways of the book are that Ramadan is a special time of year of praying, loving our family, and giving back to others, while it explains going without food and drink, it doesn’t overly dwell on it.

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The pictures are busy and colorful and detailed and wonderful.  They show diversity of color, age, ethnicity, body shape and are full of smiling warm faces.  There are animals in nearly every picture and they really are whimsical yet bold enough, to hold readers’ attention over and over and over again.

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The Prophet’s Pond by Zaheer Khatri

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The Prophet’s Pond by Zaheer Khatri

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Based on the hadith as narrated by Saheeh Al-Bukhari, “Remain patient until you meet me by the pond.”  The book follows a little boy (and his mom) searching for the pond mentioned in hadith as the place Prophet Muhammad (saw) will be waiting for us in the hereafter.

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The beautiful, faceless pictures, radiate with beauty and light as they journey from pond to pond in search of one that has all the characteristics of the one described to us.  One that takes a month’s journey to cross one of the sides, one that is whiter than milk, smells better than musk, is colder than ice, is sweeter than honey, that has as many cups to drink from as stars in the sky, and one that if you drink from it you will never be thirsty again.  theprophetspondinside3.jpg

The mother is brought along on this journey to help, and it takes her a few ponds to figure out who her son is hoping to meet in this 23 page hardbound book.  But alas, the rhyming stanzas come to an end and she advises her boy, and the reader, to live the way the Prophet instructed to, inshaAllah, in the akhira meet him by his pond.

The book is perfect for 3  to 7 year olds, with older children enjoying a reading or two as well.  

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To Catch a Bug by Nabeel Akbar illustrated by Anam Ahmed

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To Catch a Bug by Nabeel Akbar illustrated by Anam Ahmed

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This adorable preschool age book written in verse features a little girl who is fascinated by the bugs and creatures outside.  Highlighting Allah’s creations and adding in some humor, the little girl’s mom doesn’t love bugs very much, makes the book a silly read-a-loud that doesn’t get boring.

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The 8×8 size, 16 pages, makes it perfect for bedtime as it is labeled as a “bedtime short. ” The text size and length is ideal for the age group and the pictures perfectly engage the listeners with their chunky simplicity and brightness.

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The mom wears hijab, and Islamic phrases such as Subhanallah, Alhamdulillah, Inshallah, Bismillah are used, but not defined in the text, their is a glossary at the beginning.  Thus, it would work for non-Muslims, but the intended audience, i think, are little Muslim kids.

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