Captivating and uplifting.

I AM THE NIGHT SKY

...& OTHER REFLECTIONS BY MUSLIM AMERICAN YOUTH

An anthology of short stories, poems, and collages by 10 American Muslim teens.

A project of the nonprofit Next Wave Muslim Initiative, this collection presents the work of young people who reflect on their experiences as members of a marginalized and misunderstood faith coming-of-age in the greater Washington, D.C., metropolitan area. Iman Ilias’ “How To Be a 14-Year-Old Paki Muslim American Girl” and Leyla Rasheed’s “Moments I Remember I’m Muslim” unpack the social pressures on Muslim teens to simultaneously fit in and retain their sense of self. “Kabob Squad Takes Down Propaganda Man: (A Concept for the TV Show I Needed as a Kid),” by Samaa Eldadah and Fatima Rafie, and “Hyphen,” a poem by Noor Saleem, both address representation and identity. Other themes explored include relationships to prayer, perceptions of the hijab, and what it’s like to be an observant Muslim guitarist navigating the American teen party scene. Readers seeking a sociological account of the persecution of American Muslims will have to look elsewhere. This volume focuses instead on the creative minds of Muslim American youths themselves, opening a window into the complexity of their lived realities as teens in today’s America. The varied text layouts, font styles, and exceptional art enhance the reading experience. The book features a foreword by Pakistani American children’s author Hena Khan. The contributors are diverse in ethnicity, race, and sect.

Captivating and uplifting. (Anthology. 12-adult)

Pub Date: May 22, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-945434-93-8

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Shout Mouse Press

Review Posted Online: Sept. 10, 2019

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A needed and worthy addition to any folklore collection.

FEATHERED SERPENT, DARK HEART OF SKY

MYTHS OF MEXICO

Mexican-American Pura Belpré honoree Bowles (Chupacabra Vengeance, 2017, etc.) brings his passion and expertise to this new compilation of mythological tales from Mexico.

Beginning, as so many mythologies do, before the foundation of the world, Bowles weaves a chronological tale of creation and destruction, death and resurrection drawn from Mesoamerican sources. Early tales explore the failed attempts of humanity under the blazing sun or in terrifying darkness. Though human beings tenaciously gain a lasting foothold in a sea-ringed world, conflict and toil persist. The narrative continues through early pre-Columbian history and on through the Mayan and finally the Aztec empires as Bowles adds threads from Mayan, Toltec, Mixtec, and other Indigenous folklore traditions. From deep cenotes to frost-covered mountains, there are few hopeful or happy endings to be found. Rather, the specters of death, violence, vengeance, and blood sacrifice are ever present, which may turn away readers with less stomach for gore, though the mayhem is rarely gratuitous. Despite the darkness that pervades most of the tales, Bowles’ dense yet lyrical prose raises the narrative to a level suited to high mythological tradition and illuminates the foundations on which contemporary Mexican culture is laid. Though an index is sorely needed, students of folklore will find a rich trove to mine here.

A needed and worthy addition to any folklore collection. (pronunciation guide, glossary, source notes, bibliography) (Mythology. 14-adult)

Pub Date: March 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-941026-71-7

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Cinco Puntos Press

Review Posted Online: April 3, 2018

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A worthy coming-of-age story about resilience.

GERMAN CALENDAR NO DECEMBER

Ofili’s debut teaches readers that moving forward is the only option.

Olivia Evezi wants to find her place in a world where she never wholly belongs. In her home of Warri, Nigeria, her white German immigrant mother is referred to as “Oyinbo,” and Olivia dislikes the way it marks them as different. Sent to boarding school in Lagos, she is immediately othered and treated poorly because of her mixed heritage. Her fantasies of jolly adventures are quickly dashed by the realities of oppression and hazing. Hoping to put that mistreatment behind her, she finds her way to Hamburg, Germany, to attend university. Her arrival is less than pleasant after being questioned by a customs agent and embarrassing herself on an escalator. And she quickly learns that while in Nigeria she wasn’t black enough, in Germany she isn’t white enough. Among her multiethnic co-workers at a bakery she finds a family and a purpose, but it isn’t enough to shield her from harsh realities. Illustrations of birds interspersed throughout the story represent Olivia’s need to escape the familiar and seek what the rest of the world has to offer. Weyhe (Arbeit, 2018, etc.) infuses West African–style figures and art executed in simple lines with an orange, brown, and green color palette. Her expressive faces pair well with the honest, straightforward text, bringing to life the journey of a young woman seeking acceptance and belonging.

A worthy coming-of-age story about resilience. (Graphic fiction. 13-adult)

Pub Date: May 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-911115-61-8

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Cassava Republic Press

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2019

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