Title: Rashad’s Ramadan and Eid al-Fitr
Author: Lisa Bullard
Illustrator: Holli Conger
Publisher: Millbrook Press
Level: Picture Book
Rashad’s Ramadan and Eid al-Fitr is a delightful picture book, sure to appeal to children and adults alike. The book’s author is Lisa Bullard, an award winning author of more than sixty books for children. In writing the book, Lisa drew inspiration from the multicultural Muslim community of Minneapolis. Years ago, Lisa interviewed Somali-American authors and illustrators as a apart of a project for the Minnesota Humanities Commission. It would be those learning experiences which would provide the background necessary to write her book.
The book follows the book’s central character, Rashad, as he experiences Ramadan and Eid al-Fitr with his family. Rashad provides the narration for the story, which helps the reader envision Ramadan through the eyes of a child. The book is divided into four chapters: (1) where’s the moon, (2) thinking about Allah, (3) thinking about other people and (4) a big celebration. Chapter one begins with a beautiful scene, in which the family is outside gazing at the Ramadan moon, which signifies the start of the holy month. In chapter two, the focus is on the spiritual side of Ramadan. In this chapter, Rashad tells us about the pre-dawn meal (suhur) and the importance of attending the mosque during Ramadhan for the night prayer. In chapter 3, Rashad talks about the importance of doing good deeds which includes giving in charity and not bothering his sister. In chapter 4, it’s the Eid ul Fitr celebration! The special day begins with the morning prayer and is followed by visits with family, getting candy and presents, and playing fun games. A neat feature of this book is that we find Rashad tracking of the different phases of the moon during the month. Many Ramadan-themed books typically stop with the observance of the moon at the advent and conclusion of Ramadan, but it was neat to see Rashad keeping an eye on the moon throughout the month.
Rashad’s Ramadan and Eid al-Fitr is written in an easy to follow style, with many memorable lines. For example, in response to Rashad’s jubilation at sighting the Ramadan moon, his father remarks: “ Rashad, your smile curves across your face just like the moon”. For folks who are unfamiliar with Islam and/or Ramadan, Lisa includes helpful sidebars which provide readers with the background necessary to fully grasp the story. While the book comes with a glossary, the sidebars allow readers to appreciate the story uninterrupted without having to constantly flip to the back for the glossary. This will be particularly useful and helpful for non-Muslim readers who are seeking to learn more about Ramadan. The book also comes with instructions on making a colorful donation can, a resources page for anyone interested in learning more about Ramadan and an index.
Holli Conger does a wonderful job with her illustrations for the book. Holli’s illustrations show the Muslim community in all its diversity. The book highlights a Black Muslim family, a group too often missing from children’s literature. The colors used throughout the book are alive and vivrant; anyone familiar with the use of color among Minneapolis’s Muslim women, will truly appreciate Rashad’s mother’s clothing.
This book is highly recommended for Muslim parents who want to teach their children about Ramadan, and for non-Muslim children and families curious about learning more about this blessed month.
Note: We want to extend our thanks to Lerner Books, for providing us with a book for this review.