Rummanah Aasi
  For centuries fable stories were created in order to teach children and adults life lessons. If fables are done right, the lesson is so cleverly incorporated in the story and subconsciously take root in your brain. You tend to get wrapped up in the story's plot that you unknowingly process the moral. My dad gave me his review copy of Island of Animals which is based on a famous 10th century Islamic philosophical text. He told me it would be great for kids and that I had to read it. Unlike the last book he recommended to me, he actually read this one and we had a lively discussion after I finished the book.

Description: A fabulous island is inhabited only by animals and Djinn, a race of invisible beings, until the day a great storm shipwrecks men upon its shores. Soon men begin to use the animals living there for their own needs, but the animals rebel, taking their case to the Djinn. The King of the Djinn listens to testimony from both men and animals, and ultimately decides who is superior.

Review: I don't like preachy books that forces messages down your throat when you read. I like to think critically about all the books that I read. To be honest, I was a bit hesitate to read the Island of Animals and was wondering if it would be an appropriate book to include in a public library or school setting. With that idea in mind, I decided to read the book and really enjoyed it.
  The Island of Animals is based on a famous 10th century Islamic philosophical text written in Basra, Iraq. Basra was known in the Islamic Empire as the "Venice of Middle East". This fable incorporates both the question of animal rights along with key Islamic teachings. Islam teaches that man is responsible for animals and should always treat them with respect. This concept is illustrated in the fable as man take control over the animals on an island that is only inhabited by animals and Djinn. The animals tired of the injustices they face, demand their voices to be heard. The Djinn advises both animals and man to chose a representative to best testify their needs and arguments. Though much of the book is focused on the case, I couldn't help but side with the animals more than the humans especially when man's pride and greed are concerned. Moving and educational, this fable is accompanied by superbly detailed black-and-white illustrations that are characteristic of Arabic art. The Island of Animals has a great and thorough introduction to help the reader understand the context of the story. It could be read as a basic story supporting animal rights and it can also be used as a guide in highlighting the basic tenets of the Islamic faith.
  As for adding this book in a library, I wouldn't have any hesitations as long as other fables representing other faiths are present. I think it would be really cool to compare and contrast other religious fables but that's just me. The Island of Animals is a great example of classic Islamic literature and one that I recommend with no hesitation to children and adults. 

Rating: 4 stars

Curriculum Connection: Islamic Studies, Social Studies


Words of Caution: None. Recommended to Grades 6 and up.


If you like this book try: The Rose Garden by Saadi
4 Responses
  1. This sounds like an interesting book, thank you for posting it to the Middle East Reading Challenge!


  2. Alison Says:

    This does sound really interesting. It's nice to have exposure to Islamic literature that portrays the people as more than what we see on TV. I'd like to read some of the classic Persian poetry someday, but I'm awful about reading poetry.


  3. Helen: You're welcome! I never heard about it before.

    Alison: Me too. I got some classic Persian poetry books too but it's hard to find the right translation and notes to give a good context of the work.


  4. Jenny Says:

    Nice that you expected this one to be preachy and it turned out to be much better than you thought! Love it when a book is a pleasant surprise:)


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