Rummanah Aasi
 Frustrated by a day full of teachers and classmates mispronouncing her beautiful name, a little girl tells her mother she never wants to come back to school. In response, the girl's mother teaches her about the musicality of African, Asian, Black-American, Latinx, and Middle Eastern names on their lyrical walk home through the city. Empowered by this newfound understanding, the young girl is ready to return the next day to share her knowledge with her class.

Review: I absolutely loved this picture book and I wished I had this book when I was younger. Like the main character of the book, I too have a name that often gets stuck in people's throats. My name has been butchered countless times and I have grown numb to the pain it causes. I had teachers who would never say name, but would only give me visual cues if they were talking to me.  My name is very hard to Anglicize and I even tried a nickname "Rum" which I thought would prevent the mispronunciation and help lessen the blow, but I started to distance myself from the nickname because that is not me.
   At the end of the first day of school, a young Black Muslim protagonist, shares her sorrow with her mother over her teacher and classmates' inability to pronounce her name. Her mother's response lifts the girl's-and readers'-spirits by illuminating the resonating meaning and power of diverse names from many different cultures through song. As the gently rendered scenes of this heartfelt talk unfold, Uribe's expressive details capture the musicality of different names. Fine, swooping lines and blooming silhouettes of pastel color flow through each page, matching the mother's musical notes and the young child's growing sense of understanding and confidence in her ability to pass this lesson on to others. When again confronted with a verging microagression, the young child gives a teachable moment to her teacher and class of how to pronounce her name, Kora-Jalimuso, and others as a songThe book concludes with a glossary and a pronunciation guide, emphasizing the beauty and significance of all the names featured.  This beautiful affirming book reminds us that we all deserve to have our names pronounced correctly and that names are an important part of our identity and cultural heritage.

Rating: 5 stars

Words of Caution: None.

If you like this book try: Alma and how she got her name by Juana Martinez-Neal, Always Anjali by Sheetal Sheth

 With her new backpack and light-up shoes, Faizah knows the first day of school is going to be special. It's the start of a brand new year and, best of all, it's her older sister Asiya's first day of hijab--a hijab of beautiful blue fabric, like the ocean waving to the sky. But not everyone sees hijab as beautiful, and in the face of hurtful, confusing words, Faizah will find new ways to be strong.

Review: Faizah is excited for her first day of school but even more excited for her older sister, Asiya. Asiya is starting sixth grade with her brand-new blue hijab. As Faizah walks to the school in her new light-up shoes and backpack, she admires her sister who looks like a princess in her blue head scarf. When the sisters approach the school there is a wide ranging reactions to Asiya's hijab. Some students celebrate with her, some are ambivalent, and some faceless, nameless bullies taunt her with insults calling her hijab a "tablecloth". Their mother has prepared her daughters with wise words and how to respond. I found Faizah's rebuttal to the bullies and questions about her sister's hijab to be most profound from whispers of correcting misconceptions to a much louder, confident voice as the story progresses. 
   The illustration and the colors are just as powerful as words conveying the passionate message of how to be proud of one's culture, individuality, and religion and how to stay strong and keep one's faith. This is an empowering book for young readers who can see themselves in Asiya or know someone like her. I also love how unapologetic the book is displaying Asiya's strength and the sister's joy. I would have liked a bit of back matter in explaining the hijab to younger readers. 

Rating: 4 stars

Words of Caution: None.

If you like this book try: Under My Hijab by Hena Khan, My Mommy's Khimar by Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow
1 Response
  1. These both sound good, but the first one touches on an issue that is so important: getting people's name correct. It's such a simple thing, but means so much.

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