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GOING TO MECCA by Na’ima B. Robert


by Na’ima B. Robert & illustrated by Valentina Cavallini

Age Range: 6 - 9

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 2012
ISBN: 978-1-84780-153-1
Publisher: Frances Lincoln

The trip to Mecca, the Hajj, is the most important religious event in the life of a Muslim.

A family living in London sets forth on their spiritual journey, leaving the youngest child behind with her grandmother. Most double-page spreads highlight one stage of the trip with a free-verse poem, such as the one that addresses attire: “Dress with a pilgrim / As he stands barefoot, / A sheet round his shoulders, / Another round his waist.” Readers are exhorted to vicariously take part in all the rituals of the nine-day observance. The repetitive nature of the first lines of the poems is soothing, but it may resonate most with young Muslim readers, as children are asked to call out in prayer and gaze at the Black Stone on one side of the Ka'bah, among other “requests.” Although the poems attempt to explain all the practices and there is a back page with additional information, adults familiar with Islam are best positioned to share the book with children as part of a larger discussion on this pillar of the Muslim faith. The folk-art–style mixed-media illustrations, utilizing fabrics and papers, show the great diversity of Muslim pilgrims. There is no bibliography.

Follow this contemporary family, but pack some more expertise in your imaginary suitcase. (Picture book. 6-9)