Category: Book Reviews (page 2 of 3)

Book Review – Muslim Teens in Pitfalls and Pranks

Muslim Teens in Pitfalls and Pranks
Author – Maryam Mahmoodian
Publisher – Muslim Writers Publishing
Paperback 161 pages

Ages 12+

Muslim teens in pitfalls and pranks

Muslim Teens in Pitfalls and Pranks chronicles a couple of weeks in the lives of a group of Muslim American teenagers. All either friends or acquaintances, these young adults face situations and challenges that most young Muslims can relate to. The book focuses on a number of significant events that take place in their lives, and how they deal and cope with them, all the while keeping the reader entertained and curious to know more.

There is so much that can be extracted from this! From the struggles (and a particularly nasty incident) that Elham faces because of her hijab in school, to the background information about her parents struggle as refugees when she was just a baby, and from the racist vandalism that Khalid has to deal with, to the very kind and supportive nature of his manager James, the first few chapters are filled with real-life relatable occurrences with great underlying explanations and teaching moments. Any parent or teenager, living in a majority non-Muslim country will be able to relate to the feelings of some or all of the characters.

In amongst all this, Ibrahim is struggling with a different set of challenges. A girl at school has asked him out and his decisions and the consequence of his actions are explored and explained. He comes to some very important realisations during this time and his feelings and thoughts are probably widely felt by most teenagers in his situation.

At the same time, Nur is convinced that her brother, Saad, is becoming too extreme in his interpretation of Islam and fears that his association with some Saudi Arabian friends is nothing short of trouble. The resulting outcome of this scenario is rather funny. Saad finds out what Nur is thinking and plans to trick her – but she is even further ahead of him! Through this Nur learns some important lessons about suspicion, jumping to conclusions and stereotyping people in the same way that she adamantly speaks out against.

I particularly enjoyed the way that the book mentions and accepts the different viewpoints within the Muslim community. The mention of the conservative Saudi friends highlights to Nur that our perceptions of people can cloud our judgement. The combined Islamic Centre for Sunni and Shia Muslims they run in their community also serves as a reminder for tolerance and acceptance even within our own ranks.

The book is a fantastic read which will give teenagers (and adults) a feeling of security in their faith. In the case of Ibrahim being asked out by a girl, by exploring the reasons why we do things differently, we gain strength in the knowledge that we do what we do for the sake and pleasure of Allah.

What’s particularly striking is the case of Elham and her hijab struggles – by her reaching out to those who offended her, we see that their issue with her was as a result of unfamiliarity and a lack of understanding. Often, by being ‘different’ we are often stereotyped, but we too, tend to stereotype others. By reaching out to others and breaking down barriers first, by showing how we are similar to others and then what makes us Muslim, we too can break down the stereotypes.

Muslim Teens in Pitfalls and Pranks is a fun, informative read, which covers many scenarios that teens are likely to experience in some way or another. It provides thorough guidance by using real-life experiences in a believable way. The advice the book provides is sound, relatable and non-preachy and it is written in a way that will keep the reader entertained.

For more information visit Muslim Writers Publishing

To purchase on Amazon, click here.

Book Review – Understand and Love your Creator – Halah Azim

Names of AllahAuthor and designer – Halah Azim
Paperback 200 pages

Great for 10+ (pre-teens, teens and adults will all benefit from this great journal-style book)

 

Understand and Love your Creator – Learn the 99 names of Allah by Halah Azim

“Allah’s beauty is beyond any words and I’m sure in the midst of our busy lives sometimes we can lose track of that. We can lose track of how much Allah loves us and we can miss the most beautiful relationship we can ever have. I’m hoping that after going through this book and reflecting on Allah’s ultimate beauty we can all find that love that has no parallel.” Halah Azim, author

 

When I received this book from Sister Halah Azim, immediately my thoughts went to how beautiful, practical and relatable the book was.

 

I always, at the back of my mind, know that I must make more of an effort to really learn and reflect on the beautiful names of Allah, and yes, I have been through many books before, but this one struck me as being fresh and unique.

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The book is bright and colourful – the designs draw you into it. Each name is designed differently; it’s given in Arabic and then English. Underneath there are related quotes from the Qur’an and Ahaddith, which put the name into perspective. Then there are ‘keys to remember’, where the author has penned down for us the important points to think about and ponder, and finally there is a space to write our thoughts…

 

The space to write in is unique, because it doesn’t just say ‘make notes here’ or ‘my thoughts’, but instead, something profound and thought-provoking

HOW THIS NAME AFFECTS MY LIFE? Each time you focus on one of the names of Allah, read the translation and put things into perspective, you ask yourself, how does this name affect my life…

And this really makes you think!

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This book is like a journal with a difference. Journals are supposed to help you with mental clarity, assessing your values, emotions and goals and improve your insight and understanding.

 

By taking the time to explore different feelings and thoughts around the names of Allah, you will find that it will help to put your life into perspective in more ways than one.

 

Some of the ways this book can help both adults and teens

-Learn and remember the blessed names of Allah

-Understand their meanings, implications and significance

-Reflect within yourself, how you feel

-Clarify and consolidate your understanding of the reason for our existence – the worship of Allah.

 

“Every type of worship we do has one main purpose and that is the remembrance of Allah”

By making an effort to learn and reflect on His beautiful names we can only hope to better our relationship with Him.

 Read our exclusive interview with the author, Sister Halah Azim!

For more information including where to purchase, visit The Hearts of Light

For readers in the US, you can purchase from Amazon US

For readers in the UK, you can purchase from Amazon UK

 

Book Review – My Dad’s Beard

 

My Dad’s Beard

Author – Zanib Mian

Illustrator – Laura Ewing

Publisher – Sweet Apple Publishers

Paperback 32 pagescover-my-dads-beard

My Dad’s Beard is an Islamic children’s book like no other! It is cute, catchy, funny and loveable, all in one.

Written from the perspective of a little boy this book tells us why he likes his dad’s beard, as well as what his grandma, mum and sister love about it too. My Dad's Beard 3

The size of the book is larger than most picture books, which allows for bigger, bolder text and illustration. This draws you into the book even more and emphasises each page. The text on each page is written as though a different medium is used each time – this is cute and allows the children to appreciate different textures and styles within the book.

The words are simple but oh so catchy! Every time we read it, someone will chuckle – even if we’ve read it 5 times in a row. There is just something about the little boys fascination with his dad’s beard that is hilarious and heart-warming! My Dad's Beard

The best part is that is allows for a very innocent curiosity into who “the greatest man who ever lived” is. Each time my children ask me who he is, i try to give them some new piece of information about him. A great discussion-starter in a fun, interesting way.My Dad's Beard 2

Another fantastic book by Sweet Apple Publishers.

Available soon on READ Little Muslims.

Watch the trailer!

Book Review – Never Too Small

Never Too Small
Author – Zanib Mian
Illustrator – Laura Ewing Ferrer
Publisher – Sweet Apple Publishers
Paperback 29 pages

Never too small

An adorable book that reaches out and explores the insecurities and fears that children may have and makes it clear that someone out there is always available to help them get through it.

It is written in rhyming prose and this draws the children into the story and reinforces, at each interval, that no matter what fear you may have, there IS a way to “make you feel better”.

It is a book, that EVERYONE, parent, educator or child, will be able to relate to as we can all identify with fears and insecurities, whether rational or not. It will be particularly handy for parents of children who do have one of the fears mentioned – I know that it has come in handy in explaining to my children why we shouldn’t have an irrational fear of spiders! As the author says “It might help to remember it’s more scared of you!”

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In the book, each time a child’s fear is explained someone writes them a letter to feel better. This is an endearing way to show how people care for each other and try to make the next person feel better. At the end of the book, the reader is asked to look out for someone who might also need a letter, and need reassuring. This is a great way to encourage empathy and consideration for others.

 

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Featuring varied characters in the illustrations is a great way of exploring diversity, and that all children, no matter what they look like, have the same fears, and by extension, hopes, dreams and aspirations. Now, more than ever, exploring diversity in a positive way is extremely important.

The book is A4 size and is beautifully illustrated. Each characters’ fear and then relief clearly come through in the illustrations. Children are able to absorb a lot of detail from the pictures alone.

Another fantastic book by Sweet Apple Publishers.

Coming soon to READ Little Muslims.

Book Review – Adam & the Tummy Monsters

Adam & the Tummy Monsters
Author: Zanib Mian
Illustrator: Maria M. Goncalves
Publisher: Sweet Apple Publishers
Hardcover 27 pages

cover-adam-and-the-tummy-monsters

There are many habits that we, as Muslim parents and educators try to inculcate into our Little Muslims, and one of them is the etiquette of eating – washing hands, reciting Bismillah and eating in moderation. Adam and the Tummy Monsters explores these habits and in a fun and interactive way.

The character, Adam, has already become a familiar one in our household (see our review of Adam in Lost and Found). In this story, he starts to feel a bit yucky, and thinks he has the dreaded TUMMY MONSTERS.

We are introduced to Detective Doodle (Adam’s dad’s alter ego), which is a fun twist to the story, and together the family solves the mystery of the tummy monsters. Their investigation leads them to questioning whether Ahmed ate good food, washed his hands and said ‘in the name of Allah’ before eating. This is a great way to reinforce the importance of these habits, again in a fun way that is not overbearing for young children.

I can just see myself telling my Little Muslims – “Remember what happened to Adam! Don’t eat too much! You must remember to wash your hands!”

Again, the illustrations are fun and expressive. The emotions shine through and the Adam himself is so cute and endearing, you can’t help feeling sorry for him. The size of the book is perfect for little hands.

In my opinion, the worth of a children’s book can be measured by how much the children enjoy it. If you’ve been following me on Facebook, you know that i’ve had episodes of reading this book to my children multiple times in one sitting! I generally review books only once i’ve had ample time for myself and my children to read and absorb them. The ‘Adam’ series is a favourite, and highly recommended.

You can read more about Detective Doodle here!

Visit Sweet Apple Publishers for details on where to purchase this book.

Coming soon to READ Little Muslims.

Book Review – The Young Man’s Plan

The Young Man’s Plan
Author: R S Khan
Illustrator: N Pilavci
Publisher: Education Enriched
Paperback A4 28 pages

The Young man's plan

From the Publisher
“The Young Man’s Plan” is the first in a series of tales from the lives of the Companions. The series is aimed at inspiring Muslim children and instilling love in their hearts for those who were closest to the Messenger of Allah (May Allah’s peace and blessing be upon him).

This book tells the story of Umar Ibn Khattab, the second caliph in Islam and holder of the title, Al Farooq.

At first glance, this book is pleasing to the eye. The illustrations are bright and eye-catching but facial features have been avoided. This however, does not take away from the appeal of the book, as it is still bright with plenty of detail for conversation starters. The text is clear and concise and written in poetic narrative. It is targeted at ages 5-11 and with that in mind it needs to be clear enough for a young reader, which it definitely is.

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It is written as “the tale of a fearless young man” and starts off introducing the young man’s plot. It catches your interest immediately, which is fantastic for young readers, as they need to be attracted and interested in the stories from the start. It goes on to tell the story of how he wanted to carry out a plot to harm the Prophet SAW. The repetition of the main refrain serves as a way to emphasize the nature of the terrible act and also to create a tense suspense, even for those familiar with the story. As the suspense builds, so too does the readers interest, to the point where it becomes an actual page-turner till we know what finally happens when he reaches his destination.

It is not an easy feat to pull off a well-written poetic story but the author, in a few short pages, has successfully told a very complex story and has put forth a multitude of emotions through cleverly selected words and style.

I can see just how useful this book will be for parents and teachers trying to explain to their children a somewhat complex and difficult story, and how the story will stick in the minds of our young children. This is a fantastic resource to back up and reinforce other teaching material and I look forward to future publications from this author and publisher.

A highly recommended resource for parents and teachers, which I’m sure, will prove to be indispensable in all teaching facilities.

 

For more information including where to purchase, please visit Education Enriched.

You can also find them on Facebook.

Book Review – Adam in Lost and Found

Author: Zanib Mian

Illustrator: Maria M. Goncalves
Publisher: Sweet Apple Publishers
Hardcover 32 pages

Adam in Lost and Found is a relatable story of a little boy who finds something and wants to keep it for himself.

adam 2Adam, the main character, is a lovable little boy with two siblings and doting parents. He also features in another title by Sweet Apple Publishers called Adam and the Tummy Monsters (review coming soon).

In this book, we learn that Adam has a love for trains and planes. On a train journey, he happens to find a little red train, which he absolutely loves, and wants to keep for himself. His parents then explain to him why he needs to hand the toy in to the lost and found, and what the consequences might be if he doesn’t. After much consideration, he makes his decision and everyone is very happy with his choice. Then he suddenly finds himself in the very same situation as the person who has lost the train!adam 3

This story flows very well and the illustrations are cute and catchy. The characters emotions come through very well through the illustrations – from Adam’s excitement, his parents concern and even his big sisters irritation!

Being a common situation that parents might face, this book is great for teaching the importance of returning what doesn’t belong to us and doing the right thing.
It is very endearing how the whole family sits down and works through the scenario of what needs to be done, how his parents explain to him so lovingly why he needs to do the right thing and how even his big sister Mariam, gets involved and helps him along the way.

Adam doesn’t only find something that belongs to someone else, but he also loses something very dear to him. Using both scenarios the author competently explains to children, through the story, both sides of the situation and that doing the right thing is always important because you could always find yourself in the same situation! A well-known Hadith comes to mind – Do unto all men, as you would wish to have done unto you; and reject for others what you would reject for yourself. (Reported by Abu Dawud)

A wonderful family story about doing the right thing always!

 

From the publisher –

Adam loves riding on the trains! This adventurous little boy has no dull moments, no siree! He thinks hard and plays hard, and usually realises how doing the right thing pays off!

Age: 6
Place of Birth: London, UK
Hobbies: Playing with marbles and vehicles, painting and cycling.
Favourite food: Strawberries
Favourite colour: Yellow

For more information visit Sweet Apple Publishers

 

Baby Look Book – Sweet Apple Publishers

After nearly two months of waiting, my stash of books from Sweet Apple Publishers arrived in the mail – just when we lost hope of the parcel coming, and sister Zanib Mian, founder of the publishing company and author, had already posted off a second set! After waiting and waiting, the anticipation had built up but I can safely say that the books are great!

She kindly sent all 5 of their current books to me for review, which I will do in good time.

First up is the Baby Look Book.

baby look book

It’s a sturdy board book with vibrant colours and eye catching illustrations. It has a lot of detail in it and is sure to delight the little ones. It doesn’t have much Islamic information in it (its a baby look book!) but it does feature a Yellow Mosque and I love that the little alphabet blocks that are pictured have the ABC and Alif, Baa, Taa! It is the perfect first book! It has so many conversation points – from the mosque, the bee and it’s hive all the way to stars at night. So appropriate to point out the creation of Allah and develop a love of learning.

Diversity in books

It’s also great that it features a few different babies from diverse colour backgrounds. Even from such a young age, for children to see diversity will teach them about tolerance and acceptance.

Diversity is the one true thing we all have in common. Celebrate it every day. – Anonymous

 

Reading to babies

Never underestimate the importance of reading to babies and starting early by introducing them to fun books. Reading to babies is an important way to teach them about communication, build their vocabulary, how to listen and develop their memory. By starting young, you can give them valuable information about the world around them. What may seem simple and obvious to us is (obviously) new, exciting, fun, exciting and beneficial to babies if presented in the right way.

Illustrated by Maria Mian Goncalves, this book is adorably cute and a great first book for any baby.

Publisher – Sweet Apple Publishers

10 page Hardcover

15cm x 15cm

From the Publisher –

This board book is specially designed to stimulate the developing eyesight of young babies. Capture baby’s attention with high contrast designs influenced by Islamic art.

Visit the official Sweet Apple Publishers site here and take a look at the book trailer below.

 

COMING TO READ LITTLE MUSLIMS IN 2015 Insha Allah!

How books can inspire…

It’s been a few months now that The Apple Tree by Mariam Al Kalby has been a bedtime staple in our house. It surprised me that my Little Muslim took to the book so quickly because it is a little longer than some of the books that we read, and there is a lot about the main character, Little Shaima’s, emotions in it.

The Apple Tree

The Apple Tree

 

The book centres around Little Shaima and her father planting an apple tree from a seed. Once grown, and producing apples, Little Shaima struggles with the idea of sharing her apples, until her father tells how she can receive the reward of charity when any person or animal eats from the tree. For some reason I thought that my Little Muslim wouldn’t pay that much attention to the book.

I couldn’t have been more wrong! From the first time I read it to him, he picked up on many of the nuances. He has since asked me what the reward of charity is, he has asked if we too could plant an apple tree, and he has noticed when we see birds on trees and has asked if they’re eating the apples. The fact that he too would like to receive the reward of charity has been on his mind – he even told me just recently that we need to buy lots of baskets, so that when our (hypothetical) apple tree grows apples, we will be ready to ask our neighbours to come pick them!

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Planting an apple tree wasn’t something I considered (especially from one seed) and I thought he had forgotten about it too. As a side note, to show them the wonders of planting we have recently gotten into gardening as a family, and our Little Muslims have eagerly been enjoying watching as flowers and other vegetables have been growing and ripening. I thought that planting an actual apple tree was to remain a hypothetical situation…

This brings us to one week ago, as the two of us were quietly watching a bit of TV and munching on red apples! I spotted a seed and decided to show it to him to see what he would say. Unsuprisingly, he asked if we could plant it and so we decided to give it a go! After extracting all the seeds from both our apples, we went outside, said Bismillah and planted the seeds in our little seed pots. (After some research, however, we realised that it isn’t that simple to grow an apple tree so we put in some carrot seeds as well!) We watered them daily (I really didn’t expect them to grow as we had recently tried and failed with some other seeds!) and hoped for the best.

One week later, lo and behold… this is what we found!

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I don’t know what the plan will be from here or how to proceed. I really hope they (the apples or the carrots) survive and we can give this experiment a go but no matter what happens to the little seedlings, the journey thus far has been amazing for my Little Muslim.

He has been inspired by the story of Little Shaima and her apple tree. Firstly to actually plant the seeds and watch the wonder of creation – there are so many conversations to have with him about how amazing the wonder of Allah is – how a tiny little seed planted in the dry dirt can grow into an enormous apple tree, how out of almost nothing, with the will of Allah, an entire neighbourhood can share in the fruits of one tiny seed and how all seeds, while similar, bear so many different types of fruits, vegetables and flowers.
It is He Who sendeth down rain from the skies: with it We produce vegetation of all kinds: from some We produce green (crops), out of which We produce grain, heaped up (at harvest); out of the date-palm and its sheaths (or spathes) (come) clusters of dates hanging low and near: and (then there are) gardens of grapes, and olives, and pomegranates, each similar (in kind) yet different (in variety): when they begin to bear fruit, feast your eyes with the fruit and the ripeness thereof. Behold! in these things there are signs for people who believe. (Qur’an 6:99)

Also, while Little Shaima struggles with the idea of sharing, through reading her story, my Little Muslim doesn’t. Inspired by Little Shaima, he is eager to share and is thinking ahead about how many birds and animals and people might eat from the tree so that he too, can receive the reward of charity.
“Never does a Muslim a plant a tree or sow a crop and a bird, human being, or beast eats from it without earning the reward of charity.” [Sahîh al-Bukhârî (2320) and Sahîh Muslim (1553)]

All this, from one seemingly simple children’s picture book, written with the intent to inspire and provide us with the tools to show our children how relevant the Qur’an and the Hadith of our Prophet SAW is in our daily lives.

It’s time to change the conversation – we need to constantly remind our children of the blessings and majesty of Allah in a way that is not preachy or patronising, but is gentle, tender and full of wonder. This is how great books can inspire!

Ilyas and Duck Search for Allah

Author: Omar Khawaja
Illustrator: Leo Antolini
Publisher: Little Big Kids
Hardcover
Ages 3-8

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Ilyas and Duck Search for Allah is an adorable adventure in which the two main characters go on a quest to look for Allah.

One night, Ilyas wonders about the location of Allah and after discussing this with his good pal Duck, they concoct some ideas of where they might find Him. After encountering a number of unusual and interesting animals along the way, all of whom tell the duo something unique about themselves that Allah has created, Ilyas and Duck realise that they can’t actually see Allah like they can see the animals… Ilyas comes to the realisation that “We see Allah through all His creations. And through them we believe Allah to be true”

The book is based on the following ayah from the Qur’an – Sura 45, verses 3&4 “Indeed, within the heavens and earth are signs for the believers, And in the creation of yourselves and what He disperses of moving creatures are signs for people who are certain [in faith].”

This book is visually amazing for young children. I think that it is safe to say that it is a pioneering book in the world of Islamic literature for children. It is easy to read, the illustrations are graphically captivating, the story, while complex in nature, is explained simply and at the correct level for the targeted ages. It is a great tool for parents to explain about the beauty of creation to very young children and the text and script is perfect for early readers.

Another great aspect of Ilyas and Duck Search for Allah is that fact that it encourages imagination in children. As parents we are always looking for ways to nurture this as child-development experts are increasingly recognizing the importance of imagination and the role it plays in understanding reality. Imagination is necessary for learning about things we don’t directly experience, and allows children to think beyond the scope of normal, everyday life. The fact that Ilyas and Duck visit the jungle, ocean, space among other places, all open up the potential for further conversation and learning about these environments.

The handy definitions of the different animals at the back of the book also provide further talking points for curious children. My younger Little Muslim loves the Alpine Ibex but she insists it is just a goat!

In conclusion, we love Ilyas and Duck Search for Allah. We think its fantastic for Little Muslims. We love that they actually are excited and want to read the book over and over again because it is so well targeted for them. In fact, many nights it gets chosen for bedtime stories over and above other well-known, popular mainstream titles. That’s what makes a good children’s book!

REVIEW NOTE
Some have questioned about the use of “Allah is all around us” in the story. Below is a response to one such inquiry on Amazon that the author himself responded to. I am pasting his response below:

I appreciate the insight you provided related to how the story positions the concept of Allah (God) for young kids. As you rightly observed, the story is based around Sura 45, verses 3&4 (Indeed, within the heavens and earth are signs for the believers, And in the creation of yourselvesand what He disperses of moving creatures are signs for people who are certain [in faith].) There is also an entire page dedicated to explaining this in more detail (ie space scene). As such, the story maintains the Islamic perspective in a way that young kids can relate to. After all, our goal as parents is to help our young kids build a strong sense of their Muslim identity. From this they can acquire a deeper understanding of their faith as they mature.

“The story has been reviewed and publically supported by several notable scholars including Ustad Nouman Ali Khan, Imam Mohamad Magid (President, Islamic Society of North America), Imam Marc Manley, Sheikh Mohamed Al-Hilli and others. Omar S. Khawaja”
 

 

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To purchase in Australia please click here

For other inquiries, click here for the Ilyas and Duck Official page.

BOOK REVIEW – The House of Ibn Kathir

The House of Ibn Kathir
Author: S.N. Jalali
Publisher: Blackstone House
Paperback 250 pages
Ages 10+

The House of Ibn Kathir tells the story of 11 year-old Yusif and his first year at boarding school – the prestigious Dar Al Ilm Academy. It is his first time away from home and while excited, he is nervous about what he might encounter. For many young children the idea of boarding school is a daunting yet exciting possibility. The idea of being with friends all day and night and being away from parental supervision is often appealing. It is why stories for children set in boarding schools are so popular and fun!

Yusif immediately makes some good friends –Reda who is outspoken and confident, Warsoma who is calm and prudent, as well as the easy-going Daud and astute Azmi. Each one of them is different in their own way and through the book we find their personalities develop and mature.

The adventures and experiences that Yusif and his friends have at the Dar Al Ilm Academy are delightful to read about. From the anticipation of wondering which schoolhouse they will belong to, their first archery lesson, their adventures on Hastings beach, the strange happenings in their dormitory and their discovery of an amazing secret in the school, this book has all the elements required to keep an 11-year-old reading.

Not only that, it is interspersed with so many great quotes from the Qur’an, Hadith of the Prophet SAW and other of his companions. The best thing about this is that they all flow so well. The author has created links from normal events and activities that Yusif and his friends experience to profound statements of Islamic wisdom all in normal conversation and dialogue. They never seem forced or preachy and each explanation has such a fantastic lesson behind it.

Their Headmaster speaks about time being a trust from God – “Whether or not you pass your exams with flying colours, is decreed by Allah. But it is your efforts made here – and in your whole lives, that count.” Their beloved Ustad Ibrahim explains to them the beauty and magnificence of creation and rejection of evolution while they are doing a project on the beach, and the headboy, Abdul Kadir, helps Yusif when he struggles to understand the meaning of the quote hung above the door of the House of Ibn Kathir – “Live for this life as though you will live forever, and live for the hereafter as though you would die tomorrow” – Imam Ali.

The boys at the Dar Al Ilm Academy all belong to one of four houses – The House of Ibn Kathir, the House of Abu Hanifa, the House of Ibn Majah and the House of Ibn Ajeroom. All are well known scholars of Islam and a brief explanation of each great scholar is given at the end of the book. This is another fantastic way to introduce young children to the amazing scholars of Islam and inspire in them a desire to learn and a respect for Islamic as well as other further education.

Children will easily be able to relate to Yusif and his friends. It is fantastic to read about such a great Islamic environment, where learning is so treasured and where brotherhood is so valued. But along the way Yusif and his friends do experience the same things any child would – differences with friends, issues regarding popularity, bullying and just generally, exploring their potential as soon-to-be adults.

A story of friendship and forgiveness, The House of Ibn Kathir is enjoyable and engaging, with a hint of mystery and a lot of fun.

I cannot wait to see what the next year at Dar Al Ilm has in store for Yusif and his friends. S.N Jalali has truly created some remarkable characters that I would love to read about further.

THE STORY
It’s Yusif’s first time away from home. The Dar Al Ilm Academy seemed to be the ideal place for him to pursue his studies and achieve one of his lifelong ambitions – to memorise the Qur’an, or so his parents had decided…
However, just when he thought he was settling in, Yusif finds himself with more on his hands than he had bargained for. When mysterious events start happening around the school, it begins to seem as if Dar Al Ilm has more in store for him than he had ever imagined!

 

 

In Australia you can purchase a copy of this great book right here!

In Malaysia please see By Umm Waliyya

For more information and details on where to find this book elsewhere please visit http://www.ibnkathir.co.uk/

BOOK REVIEW – The Great Race to Sycamore Street

race to sycamore

 

The Great Race to Sycamore Street

Author: J. Samia Mair

Publisher: Kube Publishing Limited

Paperback 190 pages

Age range: 9-12

 

The Great Race to Sycamore Street is an adventure packed novel for young readers. It is targeted at ages 9-12 and fills a void in Islamic themed literature for this age group.

Following the adventures of brother and sister, Hude and Amani as they visit their grandmother in a fictional American country town Fairfax, this book is great for both girls and boys a like.

The fast paced adventures that the children go through and the references to common interests at that age in terms of love of the outdoors, video games, art, cooking, sporting pursuits etc., make this a fun, relatable book for children.

Hude and Amani are excited to spend some time with their grandmother. They have a few things to look forward to including the County Fair – where Hude will take part in an archery competition and Amani will help her grandmother make her famous peach pie. Aside from this they also encounter some new acquaintances including a not-so-friendly neighbour who has some issues with the large and beautiful peach tree in their yard and some rather unfriendly local boys.

In amongst the adventure, Hude and Amani have to deal with situations that are new and unfamiliar to them. To guide them through this, their grandmother gently and articulately uses references from the Qur’an and Hadith to help them understand and resolve their troubles. Her advice covers topics including patience, avoiding backbiting, controlling anger and even kindness to animals – such a great way to impart this to children without being too preachy.

The author so clearly and succinctly describes each scenario they face – from the giant cicadas, the beautiful peach tree, the archery competition and the pie-baking contest – the amount of detail and description is a great way to introduce children to new and different concepts.

The references to the Qur’an and Hadith at the end of the book are a great addition as is the glossary, particularly for the terms related to archery. This book is a fantastic introduction to this sport.

The Great Race to Sycamore Street is a great read and highly recommended for parents to give their children a fantastic taste of adventure, inspire a love of reading and at the same time impart sound Islamic information in a natural, fluent way.

 

I bought my copy from the Book Depository.

BOOK REVIEW – The Spider and the Doves

The Spider and the Doves: The Story of the Hijra

Author and Illustrator: Farah Morley

Publisher: The Islamic Foundation

Hardback 28 pages

Age range: 6-9

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The Spider and the Doves is a lovely narration of the well-known story of the time that Prophet Muhammad SAW and Abu Bakr RA embarked on the historic journey to Medina. Told from the perspective of the spider and the doves that were present in the Cave of Thawr with them, it is a great resource to introduce children to the magnificence and significance of the Hijra.

The book is targeted at age 6-9. The text is quite lengthy so probably not suited for younger children. Having said that, it is well written and the story flows well. It doesn’t only talk about the journey of the Hijra, but also gives background information about Makkah before the advent of Islam as well as a description of Prophet Muhammad SAW – his character, personality and message.

The illustrations use a silhouette technique whereby the characters are shown as blackened images against a backdrop of beautiful watercolours. It may not keep the interest of younger audiences, but combined with the strong narrative, the depth of the images is enough to keep a 6 year old interested.

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What is great about this book is that it spends a lot of time explaining the character of the Prophet SAW. The little spider comes to love the Prophet SAW just by listening to the doves’ tales about him. This is, in effect, what we are trying to do with our children. We are asking our childrento love the Prophet SAW based on our stories of him and it is only through our constant reminders to them about how great the Prophet SAW is and how universal his teachings and his message are, that we can hope to instil a love for him in them.

 

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This retelling of the classic story of the Hijra shows how, with the inspiration from Allah, the tiniest creatures could play such a huge part in the safety of the Prophet. By the use of appropriate language, and by telling it through the spider and the dove, it helps to put things into a child’s perspective.

 

“Now there have been many great journeys – to the icy poles, to the thickest jungles and even to the moon – but this journey changed the world like no other

 

A highly recommended read, especially since the month of Muharram is now approaching.

 

I bought my copy of this book here http://www.bookdepository.com/Spider-Doves-Farah-Morley/9780860374497

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BOOK REVIEW – How Big is Allah?

How BIG is Allah?

Author and Illustrator: Emma Apple

Age: 4-10

Paperback 20 pages

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Children ask BIG questions. Questions that they seem to pluck out of space! One of those questions quite commonly asked is How Big is Allah?

I have been asked that myself very recently, and funnily enough, after introducing this book to many others, they have commented that their own children have asked similar, if not the exact same question!

One of the best uses of a book for parents, aside from developing imagination and literacy, is to use it to explain and discuss a difficult concept to young children. Children have this innate love for story telling, and we can use this to our advantage. Although simple in its message, Islam does contain complexities that need understanding and explaining to a young mind. It is great to see so many new books appear on the market, tailored specifically to our young Muslims.

The book How Big is Allah? By Emma Apple is a delightfully fun book that draws on the awe and magnificence of the Earth and Space to explain a difficult concept to children and that puts things into perspective in relation to their own size.

It is simple to read but contains within it some very interesting and relevant facts. It starts off by asking the children to reflect on their own size. It makes them think and try to relate their size to the smallest and then the biggest things that they can think of. It then goes on to describe the size of the snowflake all the way to the size of the solar systems and by doing so draws attention to the fact Allah is the CREATOR of all of this, so imagine how great he is?

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I find this book to be wonderful in its simplicity and yet it opens the doors for many meaningful conversations with children. It is a great book for those children who have an interest in space and the solar system, and it is a great way to introduce the concept of space to younger children. My own son falls a bit below the recommended age but it has opened up a path for me to explain to him about space and simultaneously about the majesty of Allah’s creation. For older children, the facts and size comparisons at the back of the book are a fantastic way of reinforcing the concepts that are described in the book and so are the infographics showing the sizes of one object in relation to another. The illustrations are in black and white and are all original, hand drawn by the author herself.

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A highly recommended book for young Muslims with curious, questioning minds!

From the author – How Big Is Allah? is written according to the sunnah (tradition of the Prophet) and does not describe Allah (God) in any physical or material way.

 

To purchase in Australia please visit www.readlittlemuslims.com

For other countries, please visit http://www.emmaapple.com/howbigisallah/

 

BOOK REVIEW – Zak and His Good Intentions

zak

Author: J. Samia Mair

Publisher: Islamic Foundation

Age: 4-7

Hardcover 36 pages

 

Zak seems to be having a bad day! He has tried to do many good deeds but each time, something goes wrong. He is tired and upset that all his efforts have been wasted.

His mother then tells him that even though he didn’t get to do any of the good deeds he had planned, he will still be rewarded. Through a hadith of our Prophet Muhammad SAW we learn that an intention to do a good deed will still be rewarded by Allah.

 

This is an articulate and well-written book that imparts a sound Islamic lesson in a way that appeals to children. It has all the elements of a good children’s book – great pace, slight misadventures, which keep children amused, a likeable main character and a happy ending.

 

After having this book in our bedtime reading pile for a few weeks now it has fast become one of our favourites. A great way of helping young children to recognise certain actions as being good deeds, and to encourage them to try, even if they sometimes fail.

 

This is definitely a high quality Islamic book that I would recommend it. Great illustrations add to its appeal.

 

Look out for this book in your local Islamic bookstore as it is published by the Islamic Foundation. If you don’t have one nearby, buy here with free shipping –

http://www.bookdepository.com/Zak-His-Good-Intentions-Samia-Mair/9780860375814

 

I bought my copy online, and this is an independent review.

 

 

 

 

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