I've got a couple of grandsons...ages 6 and 4 ....and I search regularly for books to expand their knowledge and awareness of the world. So, when I saw this book come in off the UPS truck I figured I had something exceptional. I was right.
Here is a world of the malafa, of scorpions and sand rippling dunes. Here is a world of mint tea and the call to the mosque. Here is a world where the men go to pray in the mosques while the women seek quiet places... might make for an interesting discussion. Here is a very different place with unfamiliar sights and "foreigners." What better way to knock those barriers down and to cast off that unsettled feeling you get when faced with the unknown.
What sets this book apart is a freshness of voice and the vibrant illustrations. From the opening pages we hear a young girl yearning to be like the sisters and mothers and grandmothers in her world. She wants to wear a malafa and claim that mystery and that place to stand for herself. She wants to arrive. Just like little girls who look longingly at their mother's high heeled shoes and tubes of lipstick, this young one sees the wonder of growing up. As you follow her from role model to role model you see her world through her eyes with its different shaped homes, curious landscapes and unfamiliar culture. You recognize her even though her day is filled with a dusty desert, towering mosques, the Koran and the Sahara sky.
The malafa though actually represents much more than growing up. Woven into the wearing of this cloth is the faith of the Muslim religion. Completely intertwined in this book are the themes of "becoming" and the embracing the faith and turning to the East. I can see some people bristling that this book promotes Islam. Personally I would enjoy reading it to my own grandsons and letting them ask questions about the faith of the West African Muslims of Mauritania and the faith of the Presbyterians in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, USA.
With the concerns in the schools around religion, this one could be tricky. But the world it paints is worth knowing and we owe it to our children to knock down a barrier or two in the name of connection, acceptance and the reality that we live in a global village.
978-0375870347 40 pages Ages 5-8
Recommended by: Barb