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Through intricate paintings and a cohesive text, this Christian tale becomes fully fleshed out.

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A thief finds mercy from Jesus during the crucifixion in this retelling of a Gospel story.

In Arroyo’s picture book, Dismas, an abandoned child, is raised to be a thief. Despite his kind heart, he is instructed by his master that “mercy is a great weakness.” As Dismas grows to adulthood, he becomes a feared bandit, quick to kill. One night, Dismas encounters a group of travelers: a couple with a child, whom the thief recognizes as divine. Dismas spares the family, asking the child to remember him and show him mercy one day. Years pass, and Dismas continues his wicked ways until he is finally caught. As he hangs on a cross next to an innocent preacher, Dismas recognizes the man as the divine child he met long ago. Because of his faith, the thief is forgiven and welcomed into heaven. The tale’s violent content, from Dismas’ master’s killing a kitten to the bandit’s committing his own murders, is handled discreetly in the author’s straightforward text and delicately in Gallegos’ beautiful paintings. But this material makes the work better suited for older independent readers and upper level Sunday school classes. The detailed illustrations nod to European Renaissance art depictions of Bible stories, featuring White, dark-haired characters throughout. Arroyo offers an insightful endnote about the various traditional versions of Dismas’ journey, beginning with the Gospel of Luke but including the writings of St. Augustine and others.

Through intricate paintings and a cohesive text, this Christian tale becomes fully fleshed out.

Pub Date: March 9, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-64413-238-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sophia Institute Press

Review Posted Online: April 16, 2021

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With a universal message of love and community, this book offers a beautiful representation of a too-often-overlooked...

From a debut author-and-illustrator team comes a glimpse into a young American Muslim girl’s family and community as she walks around in “Mommy’s khimar,” or headscarf.

The star of this sunny picture book is a young girl who finds joy in wearing her mother’s khimar, imagining it transforms her into a queen, a star, a mama bird, a superhero. At the core of the story is the love between the girl and her mother. The family appears to be African-American, with brown skin and textured hair. The girl’s braids and twists “form a bumpy crown” under the khimar, which smells of coconut oil and cocoa butter. Adults in her life delight in her appearance in the bright yellow khimar, including her Arabic teacher at the mosque, who calls it a “hijab,” and her grandmother, who visits after Sunday service and calls out “Sweet Jesus!” as she scoops her granddaughter into her arms. Her grandmother is, apparently, a Christian, but “We are a family and we love each other just the same.” The illustrations feature soft pastel colors with dynamic lines and gently patterned backgrounds that complement the story’s joyful tone. The words are often lyrical, and the story artfully includes many cultural details that will delight readers who share the cheerful protagonist’s culture and enlighten readers who don’t.

With a universal message of love and community, this book offers a beautiful representation of a too-often-overlooked cultural group . (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 3, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5344-0059-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Salaam Reads/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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From the Zara's Rules series , Vol. 1

A charming contemporary story with a classic feel.

A 10 ¾-year-old girl weathers changes in her social circle—and her sense of self.

Dubbed “Queen of the Neighborhood” by beloved neighbor Mr. Chapman, who has sadly left Maryland for balmy Florida, Zara is apprehensive when a family with two kids moves into his house, potentially upsetting the delicate social balance. Readers familiar with Khan’s Zayd Saleem, Chasing the Dream books, set a few years after this series opener, will recognize the bustling Pakistani American Muslim household. Assertive, organized Zara and rambunctious 7-year-old Zayd live with their Mama and Baba; the siblings’ grandparents and uncle are integral parts of their daily lives. Zara and Zayd enjoy playing outside with their friends—Black sisters Jade and Gloria, White Alan, and Chinese American Melvin. Mr. Chapman always said that Zara knew how to “rule with grace and fairness,” but new arrivals Naomi and Michael, Jewish kids who are eager to engage socially, put this to the test. When Jamal Mamoo, Mama’s brother, brings over his Guinness World Records book, Zara decides that becoming a world-record holder is the boost her social status needs. Her humorous (and futile) attempts to make her mark ultimately lead her to being a more patient and understanding big sister and more flexible and supportive companion to friends old and new. Strong pacing, fluid prose, engaging hijinks, and heartwarming scenes of family life and outdoor play are complemented by expressive illustrations.

A charming contemporary story with a classic feel. (Fiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: April 19, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5344-9759-7

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Salaam Reads/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 12, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2022

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