As children grow up in an ever increasing multicultural world, books like this are essential. Inspired by her own experiences, Ibtihaj Muhammad wanted to write a book where readers, specifically Muslim children who wear a hijab, could see themselves represented in a story. This is a wonderful and important story and should be read by every child. This is a celebration of young Muslim girls and what it means to wear a hijab, particularly one that is the brightest blue.
Faizah is all set for her first day at school, she has a new backpack and her light-up shoes. Faizah’s older sister Asiya is about to start year seven. But before this, Asiya must choose her hijab, not just any hijab, her first-day hijab. She chooses the brightest blue and the sisters are full of excitement as they speed-walk to school on the first day. Not everyone at school is pleased to see a girl in a hijab though. The young children in Faizah's class are curious and the older boys are just mean. With wisdom from their mother and empathy from their friends the girls find that they are perhaps stronger than they knew.
This is an all too familiar tale about how people are discriminated against and treated differently just because of the their appearance. The story is told through the eyes of Faizah and snippets of motherly wisdom are added throughout the story which help guide her. What shines through in the story is the love sisters have for one another and their incredible sibling bond. The story is a clear message about being proud of who you are and that you should ALWAYS hold your head up high. It is about finding the strength within yourself to rise above hurtful comments, to stand up for yourself and to speak out against the haters. The messages on anti-bullying within this book will hopefully help readers to show empathy and understanding to children and adults who are from cultures that are different to their own.
The striking illustrations are the perfect accompaniment to the text. I particularly like the double page spreads of the hijab which give it a life and a personality all of its own.It is well worth taking the time to read the author’s notes. Muhammad retells an all too familiar story about the ridicule that she had to endure growing up just because she wore a head scarf. The message from Muhammad will no doubt spark further questions from young readers and will probably lead to purposeful discussions about the multicultural world in which we live. The images at the back of the book of Muhammad and her two sisters are a perfect ending to the story and show the beauty of the hijab and the pride the sisters all clearly have in wearing it. The happiness literally sparkles in Muhammad’s eyes.
A book that deserves a home on every child’s bookshelf.
Recommended for 6+.