Written by: Rabiah York Lumbard
Illustrated by: Laura K. Horton
For ages: 4-8 years
Language: English, some Arabic.
Topics Covered: Muslim Experience, Holidays, Ramadan, Islam, Family, Love, Social-Emotional Learning.
This is a lovely introduction book to the holiday of Ramadan, told through main character Sophia’s eyes. We are so pleased to have already seen a handful of book reviews about it, because it is such a great book! Sophia wants to begin fasting with the rest of her family, and is eager for her heart to sparkle, in the words of her grandmother. The book goes through the first day of Ramadan, and how Sophia adjusts to waking up so early that she falls asleep during sahoor and prayers, and tries to keep herself busy so she doesn’t think about how hungry and thirsty she is.
And you know what, Sophia doesn’t fast all day. She gets too hungry and eats some cookies in the pantry. Her grandmother finds her and assures Sophia that there are other ways to celebrate Ramadan, and she can always try to fast again tomorrow. Sophia decides to celebrate by helping cook the food for the first Iftar, for her family.
This book is sweet in that it discusses how being Muslim and celebrating Ramadan as a child isn’t easy immediately. Sophia struggles, but that’s ok. Her family lets her try, and is there to comfort her when things don’t go the way Sophia anticipated. In an Author’s Note, more details about the holiday itself are discussed, and aspects of Ramadan that aren’t immediately apparent in the book are pointed out, such as watching one’s behavior and refraining from yelling at a sibling (we’ve all been there). This is an adorable picture book, and a lovely story about not only a holiday, but perfectionism not always being immediately attainable. Trying and working at something new is just as admirable!
About the Author & the Illustrator:
Rabiah York Lumbard is an award-winning author of the picture book The Conference of the Birds (Wisdom Tales, 2012). Her latest picture book, The Gift of Ramadan (Albert Whitman, 2019) was highly recommended by SLJ as “a perfect addition to holiday book collections,” while her deeply personal debut novel No True Believers (Crown 2020), which draws on her experience as an American Muslim at home and abroad has been hailed by Booklist as “taut debut novel” and “a page-turner that carries a message of radical love, regardless of faith.”
After embracing Islam at the age of eighteen, she earned a BA in religious studies from George Washington University and is completing her MFA in creative writing at Spalding University. She moves frequently, but currently lives in the Doha with her husband and three daughters where she also works as a part-time writing specialist at local universities. Favorite pastimes include rescuing Arabian Maus and kayaking in the Arabian Gulf.
Laura K. Horton is a freelance illustrator that has always had a passion for family, creativity, and imagination.
“In 2014 I earned my B.F.A. in illustration & animation from the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design. I have been featured in juried exhibitions and competitions, including the 2014 Society of Illustrators Student Scholarship Exhibition and the MIAD Senior Juried Exhibition.
When I’m not working, I can be found drinking tea, reading, and game designing. Currently, I am living in Espoo, Finland, to obtain an M.A. degree in game design and production.”