Thursday, 4 October 2012

Book Review: Hijab and Basketball by Umm Nura

Hijab and Basketball is the story of Amina, a young girl who is moving to a new school and is anxious about how her people will perceive her hijab.  On arriving Amina makes friends and joins the basketball team, but she also finds she is teased about her headscarf.  Finding courage in the story of Nusaybah bint Ka’ab, who walked into battle in the early days of Islam, Amina faces challenges when she is given the opportunity to play in a basketball tournament because of her head scarf.

My daughter previously read Jannah Jewels by the same author and enjoyed it, so I was keen to take a look at this book.  The book addressed what felt like common and realistic complaints from a young woman: her anxieties about starting at a new school, making new friends and having to explain the hijab to other students.

I liked that the main character was positive and strong – she is clear on why she wears the hijab and can explain to others, she is athletic, being good at basketball and she is able to stand up for herself when bullied, including when the bullies make fun of her ablutions and prayers.

The book also touches on the complexity of bullying amongst girls – the way friends behave differently in front of bullies or the way that bullies might have their own difficulties or sadness to contend with.

The book is also considerate of other faiths.  One of Amina’s friends is a Christian and they compare some of the beliefs they have.  Amina’s sympathetic and kind basketball coach is a Sikh.  I am all for teaching our children to respect other faiths and to be considerate of other people’s ways of thinking.

My 9 year old daughter enjoyed reading this book and I liked how she reacted at the prejudice Amina faces during the basketball tournament – with indignation.  Surprisingly, my boys (7 and 5) also liked the book and my older son also commented on the unfairness of what happens during the tournament.

The book does not end with a clear-cut happy ending, but it certainly leaves its young reader in a place where they will have questions about what happens.  A well written, easy to read book, with good role models in the shape of Amina, her coach and her mother amongst others which should give children plenty to think about.

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Tafsir Ibn Kathir

I come down early one morning recently and found a box decorated with animals in the front room.  I though it was rather a nice box and might be useful to store some of the kids stuff in.  Hubby had come home late from doing a house work and left it there.

I took a peek inside the box and found a full set of 10 volumes of Tafsir Ibn Kathir in immaculate condition.  I have been after a set of these for the last few years, but never got round to spending the £120 or so it costs.  Aren't I glad I didn't now!

Hubby confirmed that he did a house move the night before and had been given the books.  I was over the moon.  I told him he should have hidden them and given them to me on Eid, I would have been happy all year.  His face dropped when he realised the missed opportunity!

I really do like this man's job.

Friday, 27 January 2012

Book Review: The Poor King by Asma Iftikhar

The Poor King is the story of an old man who lives in a hut made of mud and straw. He insists he is a king with a palace and servants much to the amusements of villagers who look on him with fondness. He is happy with his solitary life, spending his time caring for his sheep and cattle and sitting on his worn old rug to reflect in silence.

This is until he falls sick and a number of people come to visit him, changing his life – the handsome cloth merchant who wants to take him home, the physician who wants to heal him and a final, unexpected little visitor.

The story appears to be an analogy of mans ability to be content with what he has or choose to be taken in by desire for the wealth of the world (dunya) and lose his contentment.

The language used is simple but evocative, with some startling images; the handsome merchant with his “olive skin and almond-shaped eyes”, the child in the startling white clothes, which stand out in a story that otherwise flows with a gentle rhythm.

This is not an easy book with a simple story and a happy ending, but a more layered story with the villagers in the background, the visitors own agenda’s and the kings behaviour and reactions not always obvious to interpret. I did wonder if my children would be able to understand the messages in the book.

The images accompanying the story are simple line drawings softly filled in with washes of soft colours creating an impression of what is happening and a mood rather than the clear and descriptive drawings you more commonly find in children’s books. The effect is haunting and it makes you wonder rather than tell you what to think.

This is a touching book to be read many times to get an understanding of what the messages behind the story are. One that will make children think and stay with them after they have finished it. My daughter’s verdict on the book: “I really liked it mum, it made me feel sad.”

image source

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Outstanding Book Reviews

These past few months I have been reading everything I can get my hands on, but moving onto the next book before I could get to do a book review. I am trying to organise the mess that has stacked up in my bedroom and gathered up this bag of books that need to be reviewed. Now where do I start?....