image via simplyislam.com
“Lisa was surprised to see Tasneem without her scarf on. She said nothing but saw that Yvonne had noticed it too.
“Hey you two, here at last! Come on into the dining room. I’m starving,q” said Tasneem.
The two slightly nervous guests followed Tasneem through to dining room.Lisa was wondering what vegetarians would serve as a whole meal.”
Tasneem is a Muslim girl who has just moved to a new school. She quickly becomes firm friends with two girls in her class. They are puzzled by the fact that she doesn’t ever take any meat in her school lunches. They believe Tasneem is vegetarian until they are invited for dinner at her house and they all eat lamb burgers. And why wasn’t she wearing her hijab at home? In this book the issues of Halal meat and Islamic dress requirements are explored in the relationship between Tasneem and her two non-Muslim friends.
This is not a new book, but I wanted to introduce it to those who may not have read it as yet. I think it is a wonderful book that could be used to explain Islamic practices pertaining to food and dress to children about seven to eleven. It’s the kind of book that would work well as a read-aloud by a teacher or parent in a public school setting. What’s more many Muslim girls, like Tasneem in the book, can relate to the ups and downs of friendship.
Title: The Meat Eating Vegetarian
Author: Caroline Maryam Ward
Publisher: The Islamic Foundation (UK)
Category: Islamic Fiction
Interest Level: 7 – 10 years
Reading Level: 8 – 11 years
One 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