A young girl admires her older sister’s “first-day hijab” in this team effort by hijabi Olympian Muhammad (Proud, 2018) and YA novelist Ali (Love From A to Z, 2019).
Mama takes Asiyah and Faizah to the hijab shop so that Asiyah can pick out her “first-day hijab.” Mama likes pink, but Asiyah picks out “the brightest blue.” Faizah has a new backpack and light-up shoes for the first day of school, but when Asiyah walks out in her blue hijab, “It’s the most beautiful first day of school ever. / I’m walking with a princess.” Once they arrive at school, the reactions of other children alternate with spreads depicting Faizah’s thoughts about Asiyah’s hijab, which are paired with Mama’s words. A girl whispers, asking Faizah about the hijab. But “Asiyah’s hijab isn’t a whisper”; according to Mama, “It means being strong.” These spreads show Aly’s close-up illustrations of a smiling Asiyah, with her blue hijab extending into an image of “the sky on a sunny day” or “the ocean waving to the sky.” Faizah triumphs over the misunderstandings and bullying she witnesses, her pride in her sister still intact. This sensitive representation of family relationships that provide a loving coat of armor against the world’s difficulties is memorable and inspiring. Bullies are depicted as faceless shadows, emphasizing the importance of discounting what they say. Faizah’s family is black; the other schoolchildren are multiracial.
Triumphant and true. (Picture book. 4-10)