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SISTER FRIEND by Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow Kirkus Star


by Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow ; illustrated by Shahrzad Maydani

Pub Date: May 7th, 2024
ISBN: 9781419767210
Publisher: Abrams

After being excluded by her peers, a girl finally makes a friend.

The only student with brown skin and her hair in twists, Ameena always plays alone at school. “No one saw her. No one heard her. Or maybe they did. They just didn’t show it. She wasn’t sure.” When they aren’t ignoring her, the other kids look at her like she’s strange. But one day, there’s a new student named Sundus in her class. “Ameena saw her brownness. Saw her hijab, like the ones Ameena also wore to masjid. Saw it was the color of spring, the color of lilacs.” Ameena is not alone! The potential for friendship is there, but Ameena must first learn how to approach and communicate with Sundus, who mistakes Ameena’s initial clumsy overture for a taunt. But a tender moment between their mothers during a visit to the masjid, witnessed by Ameena, offers a blueprint for the language of friendship. Maydani’s sweetly hazy illustrations, which alternate between light pastels and darker shades, capture the characters’ evolving emotions. Thompkins-Bigelow’s words resonate deeply and convey feelings of isolation, exclusion, and joyful acceptance. Details such as the cornrowed braids in Ameena’s hair and the depiction of the imam as a Black man with a beard add texture and normalize Black Muslim representation in children’s literature.

A powerful exploration of what it means to be welcomed, seen, and accepted.

(Picture book. 5-9)