WHEN WINGS EXPAND by Mehded Maryam Sinclair


Age Range: 8 - 12
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A 12-year-old Canadian Muslim girl chronicles the death of her terminally ill mother and her slow healing.

When the book opens, Nur’s mother has been sick for months, and treatments seem to be going nowhere. Nur picks up the diary her mother gave her and names it “Buraq” after a legendary animal that flew Muhammad from Mecca to Jerusalem. The piety that guides her here carries her through the gut-wrenching grief that is to follow, as does the discovery of some monarch butterfly chrysalises. Nur’s Baba tells her that “Allah has made everything in a pattern. He said people are part of that pattern too. Just like chrysalises don’t stay the same, people don’t stay the same either.” While skeptics may find the metaphor of a butterfly’s emergence from a chrysalis an inapt way to help a child deal with the death of a parent, it seems to work for Nur. Whether this book will work for children is another open question. Nur is so good, so pious, so ingenuous that she is very hard to relate to. While her grief and her rage never feel false, they are so quickly mitigated by her faith, at first mediated by her devout parents (her mother dies with “Allah” on her lips) and later on her own, that she seems more a role model for grieving in Islam than a real child.

There are so few children’s books featuring sympathetic Muslim characters that it’s impossible to discount this one, but it’s pretty pallid stuff. (glossary) (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 2013
ISBN: 978-0-86037-499-2
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: Kube Publishing
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15th, 2013


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