Amira’s Totally Chocolate World (Book Review)

Amira's Totally Chocolate World Book CoverOne day while Amira was sitting in her garden and eating a chocolate candy bar she had an idea – a great idea!
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the whole world were made of chocolate? Wouldn’t it be wonderful if it were a totally chocolate world!

Amira wishes to live in a world made of chocolate. She dreams about how wonderful it would be to live in a world where everything tasted like chocolate from the flowers to the ocean and the rain. The night before Eid she goes to bed full of anticipation for the next day. But she awakes to find her dream has come true. Everything has turned to chocolate and Amira spends the day enjoying her totally chocolate world until she remembers that it is Eid and decides to return home. On the way back she realizes that she misses the beautiful colours and scents of the garden and nature. Could the world as Allah made it be better than a world made of chocolate?  

We fall in love with Amira from the beginning of the book. Like many children, she wishes for something without thinking of what it means and what would happen if the world really was made of chocolate. This book provides an opportunity to reflect on all the things in our lives that we should appreciate.  

The text is appropriate for the intended age group. However, at times it is difficult to read because it is not clearly separated from the full-page illustrations. While the illustrations representing the chocolate world were well done, the colours used for Amira’s real world could have been more vibrant.  

Amira’s Totally Chocolate World is an advanced picture book recommended for ages 5 – 7, but even children a bit younger and a bit older would appreciate this book.  

Talking Points: After reading the book have children/students use their imaginations to think, discuss and write about what kind of world they would like to live in. As a follow –up activity make a list with your children/students of all the things in their life that they appreciate and would not change.   

Title: Amira’s Totally Chocolate World
Author: J. Samia Mair
Illustrator: Craigh Howarth
Publisher: The Islamic Foundation
Date: 2009

The Jolly Jamaat (Book Review)

The Jolly Jamaat Book CoverOne Italian Imam, is going to the park, it’s a lovely day, he’s off to pray to lead the Eid salaat.
Two joyous Jamaicans step out and follow on, so full of cheer they make takbir as they both walk along.
Three bright Brazilians bound out of number three, the little one stops to tie his shoe and then shouts, “wait for me!”

The residents of Ummah Street are off to Eid salaah at the local park.  They are excited as they get ready to celebrate the end of the month of fasting, Ramadan. They come from various backgrounds: an Italian, two Jamaicans, a few Brazilians, some Hungarians and others. But by the time they all get there they discover that there is a problem. Could the park be too small for all the Muslims?

The Jolly Jamaat is a picture book that introduces counting using rhyme and bright, colourful illustrations. It will appeal to young children ages 2 to 4. The author has attempted to produce a rhyming prose and it works well. The illustrator wonderfully captures the excitement of the people when they emerge from their homes with smiles on their faces and eagerness in their step as they head to the park for the open air prayer (a practice of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him)). In terms of layout, the font type and the size of the illustrations tend to crowd the page at times making it somewhat difficult to read the text.

Talking Points: This book presents an opportunity to discuss the multi ethnic nature of the Muslims who live around the world.  My son and I used a world map to locate the countries mentioned in the book. My son enjoyed seeing the various families dressed in clothing representing their native country. We talked about the fact that no matter what we look like or where we come from, we are all Muslims; while we might appear to be different we are in fact very similar and united by our belief in Allah. The unexpected ending of the book delighted my child and we talked about what the Muslims could do if the park was too small.
Title: The Jolly Jamaat

Author: Suzanne Stone

Illustrator: Marianne Hunter

Publisher: The Seerah Foundation

Date: 2008

ISBN: 9780907052517