The Perfect Gift (Book Review)

image source: islamicedfoundation.com

“Sarah looked out of the window. She was very sad. It would soon be Eid, and she still did not have a gift for her mother.”

The Perfect Gift is nothing short of a perfect picture book. It is a heartwarming story of a young girl in search of a gift to give her mother for Eid. A walk in the snowy woods reveals an unexpected gift.

The author, J. Samia Mair, does a wonderful job in getting readers interested in the story from the start. Readers explore the outdoors with Sarah and just like her, feel the joy and happiness in finding something that makes a beautiful gift. Readers also delight in the other ‘perfect gifts’ that Sarah and her family find every time they walk through the woods.

Like a good picture book, the illustrator does a superb job of capturing the flow of the story through the use of soft watercolours. The illustrations in this book are a clear example of what good quality illustrations in children’s books should be like.

The Perfect Gift is a celebration of the beauty of Allah’s creation. A hadeeth of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), “Allah is beautiful and love beauty” is seamlessly integrated into the narration. The book is also about finding unexpected sources of delight and wonder in the simplest things that surround you.

A glossary at the end explains the Islamic terms used in the book.

Talking Points: The story is set at the time of Eid ul Adha, tough nothing pertaining to the religious aspects of the event is given. It’s also set in early Spring. Depending on where you live, you can talk about the winter/spring seasons and what happens to animals and plants during this time. Take your children of students on a walk through a natural setting outdoors and talk about what kinds of “perfect gifts” you see. Let children draw pictures and even write stories about what they find. Talk about Allah as Al Khaliq who created all the beautiful things around us. Ask children how they can enjoy nature without destroying it.

 Title: The Perfect Gift

Author: J. Samia Mair

Illustrator: Craigh Howarth

Publishers: The Islamic Foundation (UK)

ISBN: 9780860374381

Reading Level: 5 – 7 years

Interest Level: 4 – 8 years

 

Also by J. Samia Mair, Amira’s Totally Chocolate World (see review on the blog here)

A Trust of Treasures (Book Review)

A Trust of Treasures by Maehded Maryam Sinclair

image source: amazon.com

 

Long ago, the universe was humming praises for its Creator,
But there was no one to stand still and listen, and say “Ahhh.”
The stars were whirling and glittering in the night sky,
But there was no one to be dazzled by them and discern their patterns.
The moon was waxing and waning in its orbit,
But there was no one to measure its phases or count their days by it… 
     

A Trust of Treasures is as much pleasure to read as it is to look at. Children and adults alike will be mesmerised by the poetic narration and vivid images. It is a beautiful, subtle reminder of the responsibility that human beings must have toward the world in which they live.      

Mehded Maryam Sinclair takes the reader on a journey through the universe where we see all the beautiful creations of Allah (referred to in the book as “The Power of the One”) at work and in motion. From the solar system to the depths of the sea, from the fields of wheat to the dry desert where little grows; the ants, the sheep, the bees; everything living according to the Creator’s plan. Then we are told that Adam (the first man) and those after him were created not just to praise and remember the One, who created the world; but to care for, respect and responsibly use what they have been given.      

As the book is a feast for the eyes, the storytelling (available separately on audio CD) is a feast for the ears. The story is told with such beauty it leaves an indelible impression on the listener whether child or parent. Listen to the story here.      

While A Trust of Treasures is a great reminder of the beauty and resources of the world that Allah created for us to find happiness and sustenance in, the writer does not show us how much human beings have failed to take care of it; how the treasures have been exploited. Perhaps, such a description is not needed since the evidence of the destruction that we have caused is everywhere around. In fact, it is reassuring to read, listen and be reminded of the beauty of this world as it once was, of the power of the Creator and of our need to be thankful for all that we have been given.      

A Trust of Treasures is definitely a book you will want to add to your home library collection and makes a wonderful gift to give as well. It is also a good addition to the collections of school and public libraries. In the classroom children can listen to the telling of the story after having read the book.     

Title: A Trust of Treasures (also available separately in audio CD)
Author: Mehded Maryam Sinclair
Illustrator: Angela Desira
Publisher: The Islamic Foundation
Date: 2008
ISBN: 9780860374626
Reading/Listening Level: Read Aloud/Listen: any age; Read on Own: 5+      

Also by this author is the book, Miraculous Happenings in the Year of the Elephant. This story along with The Bowing of the Stars (Story of Prophet Yusuf) and A Mercy to the Worlds (Story of Prophet Muhammad) are stories written and narrated by the author, who is also a trained storyteller, and are available on audio CD. Listen to samples of these stories at the author’s blog and website.  

Allah Created Everything (Book Review)

Today (April 2) is International Children’s Day. Since 1967, International Children’s Book Day (ICBD) has been celebrated to inspire a love of reading and to call attention to children’s books.

There are wonderful children’s books being published around the world. ICBD is a good time to make a point of sharing books originally published in other countries with your children. Go to your local library to check out some multicultural books or spend time with your child reading a book in your native language.

You might want to look at the International Children’s Digital Library. It has a large database of children’s books in various languages, cultures and themes from around the world which you can read online.

To celebrate this day I wish to share with you a beautiful book called Allah Created Everything.


The Blades of Grass
The Oceans and Seas
The Rocks –
The Soil –
The Beautiful Trees,
The Majestic Mountains that we See,
Allah Created Everything.

Allah Created Everything is a book for young readers that contains beautiful illustrations that compliment a poem written by C. Alta. The pictures are clear and expressive and give the young child and parent a lot to talk about.

Not only are the wonders of Allah’s creations depicted but in its closing, children of all nationalities are shown holding hands around the globe of the earth and the following words remind us of how we are alike:

People of the World,
Shapes –
And Colors we See,
Allah Created Them
Just Like You and Me.

This book makes a wonderful addition to a home or school library.

Title: Allah Created Everything
Author: C. Alta
Illustrator: Ray Hecita
Publisher: Amica International
Date: 1994
ISBN: 1884187099
Age Group: 3 – 4 (Read Aloud); 5 – 7 (Read on own)