Kirkus Reviews QR Code


A Muslim Book of Colors

by Hena Khan & illustrated by Mehrdokht Amini

Age Range: 4 - 7

Pub Date: July 1st, 2012
ISBN: 978-0-8118-7905-7
Publisher: Chronicle

A sophisticated color-concept book featuring a contemporary family introduces Islam to young Muslims and children who don’t practice this faith.

Here the basic colors, plus gold and silver, are used to explain aspects of Islamic life. A young girl with very large eyes narrates, using short, childlike and occasionally forced verses to match colors and objects: “Gold is the dome of the mosque, / big and grand. / Beside it two towering / minarets stand.” She describes a red prayer rug, her mom’s blue hijab (headscarf), white kufis (traditional men’s woven hats), black ink for a calligraphic design, brown dates for Ramadan, orange henna designs, an Eid gift of a doll with a purple dress, a yellow zakat (charity) box, a green Quran (green has special significance in Islam, not explained here), and a silver fanoos, “a shiny lantern.” The glossary is excellent, explaining unfamiliar terms succinctly. The stylized illustrations, richly detailed, often play with the sizes of the objects in a surrealistic way. It is difficult to tell whether the family lives in the Middle East, Britain (home of the artist) or North America. The secular architecture looks Western, but the mosque looks very grand and Middle Eastern. The clothing styles are difficult to associate with a particular country. This both maximizes accessibility and deprives the tale of specificity—clearly a conscious trade-off.

A vibrant exploratory presentation that should be supplemented with other books. (Picture book. 4-7)