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An unusual take on a familiar story, with an enormous and likable character and a few gaps.

Combining a character from Numbers and Deuteronomy with the biblical tale of Noah’s Ark, the Marks and Peluso introduce the giant Og.

First shown in the arms of a smiling, doughy woman with her back against a tree trunk and her head in the leaves, Og is a big baby, so large he breaks his cradle and every bed after that as he grows. Years of sleepless nights make him grumpy to his fellow humans, but animals seek the safety of his warm mass. Because the animals trust Og, Noah tells Og about the impending flood and enlists his help gathering the animals. The vivid palette in greens, golds, and browns is warm, and the rounded shapes bring a look of juvenile innocence to all of the characters. Bible stories are complicated, and this comforting aesthetic stands in contrast to the devastation and implied death that sensitive youngsters will surely ask about, especially after seeing a close-up of Og’s tear-stained face when he discovers he cannot fit in the ark (although Og has previously said he is so tall he cannot drown). Noah invites Og to ride on top of the ark and later the giant is rewarded, presumably by God, with a giant-sized bed—which Og finds perfectly comfortable once his animal friends join him.

An unusual take on a familiar story, with an enormous and likable character and a few gaps. (authors’ note) (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4677-6149-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kar-Ben

Review Posted Online: Jan. 8, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2016

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With a universal message of love and community, this book offers a beautiful representation of a too-often-overlooked...

From a debut author-and-illustrator team comes a glimpse into a young American Muslim girl’s family and community as she walks around in “Mommy’s khimar,” or headscarf.

The star of this sunny picture book is a young girl who finds joy in wearing her mother’s khimar, imagining it transforms her into a queen, a star, a mama bird, a superhero. At the core of the story is the love between the girl and her mother. The family appears to be African-American, with brown skin and textured hair. The girl’s braids and twists “form a bumpy crown” under the khimar, which smells of coconut oil and cocoa butter. Adults in her life delight in her appearance in the bright yellow khimar, including her Arabic teacher at the mosque, who calls it a “hijab,” and her grandmother, who visits after Sunday service and calls out “Sweet Jesus!” as she scoops her granddaughter into her arms. Her grandmother is, apparently, a Christian, but “We are a family and we love each other just the same.” The illustrations feature soft pastel colors with dynamic lines and gently patterned backgrounds that complement the story’s joyful tone. The words are often lyrical, and the story artfully includes many cultural details that will delight readers who share the cheerful protagonist’s culture and enlighten readers who don’t.

With a universal message of love and community, this book offers a beautiful representation of a too-often-overlooked cultural group . (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 3, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5344-0059-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Salaam Reads/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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Both a celebration of and an introduction to the mosque.

Children welcome readers into different mosques to learn about varying activities and services that take place in them.

Though many different mosques and children are depicted, the voices call readers’ attention to the similarities among Muslim communities around the world. Yuksel highlights the community eating together; women, men, and children sharing the space and praying together; grandfathers thumbing their tasbihs; grandmothers reading the Quran; aunties giving hugs; children playing. The effect is to demonstrate that a mosque is more than just a building but rather a space where children and adults come together to pray, give, learn, and play. Joyful characters describe what happens in simple, poetic language: “In my mosque, the muezzin’s call to prayer echoes in the air. I stand shoulder to shoulder with my friends, linked like one long chain.” Aly’s bright illustrations pair well with Yuksel’s words, ending with a beautiful spread of children staring at readers, waving and extending their hands: “You are welcome in my mosque.” The variety of mosques included suggests that each has its own unique architecture, but repeating geometric patterns and shapes underscore that there are similarities too. The author’s note guides readers to her website for more information on the mosques depicted; they are not labeled, which is frustrating since the backmatter also includes a tantalizing list of famous mosques on every continent except Antarctica.

Both a celebration of and an introduction to the mosque. (glossary, sources) (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 23, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-297870-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

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