A well-crafted story of cooperation and sharing within the context of the biblical story of Creation.

A VERY BIG PROBLEM

Using the first two chapters of Genesis as a starting point, this story reimagines the Earth’s parts and inhabitants, created by God and at odds with each other.

Written in rhythmic style, reminiscent of the Old Testament chapters with their repetitive refrains, this text reads aloud well. As Levine and Sasso’s story goes, God creates Land, Rain, Plants, Sun, Birds, Earthworms, Quadrupeds, and Children in order to fashion the “very first garden,” but each “brag[s] and boast[s] and bluster[s],” thinking they must be the most important part. Land asserts, “God should love me the most. It is only fair,” and all the others follow suit, until God states “my love is big enough for every one of you.” Then, as God intended: “There was peace. / And it was very good.” An authors’ note mentions the legend is written in “the storytelling form from rabbinic literature known as midrash.” Although it focuses on Creation, it does not retell the story of Adam and Eve but pictures contemporary diverse children, their descendants. The note goes on to suggest various ideas for use (even to introduce the story of evolution), but the focus is on the story’s moral and imaginative qualities. The text uses no gender pronouns, and the layered, richly colored illustrations occasionally evoke Eric Carle’s collages.

A well-crafted story of cooperation and sharing within the context of the biblical story of Creation. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-947888-11-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Flyaway Books

Review Posted Online: May 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2020

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

MOMMY'S KHIMAR

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. 3, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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Both a celebration of and an introduction to the mosque.

IN MY 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. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

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