Written by: Ibtihaj Muhammad with S.K. Ali
Illustrated by: Hatem Aly
For ages: 4-8 years
Topics Covered: Muslim Identity, Islamophobia, Family, Growing Up, Siblings, Own Voices, Lived Experiences, POC-Centric Narratives, Resilience, Strength.
Summary: The Proudest Blue is a story about Asiya’s first day hijab, which she has chosen because it’s the color of the sky. Faizah, Asiya’s younger sister, is our narrator and is very excited for her sister. Faizah also thinks Asiya’s hijab is beautiful, and wants one of the same color for her first hijab that she wears to school.
At school, Faizah has classmates ask her why her sister is wearing the hijab, and she answers them truthfully. Faizah remembers the strength that their mother instilled in them, especially when she notices that some other students are laughing. Faizah and Asiya’s mother has told them that not everyone will understand they hijabs, but the girls must know who they themselves are in order for people to understand who they are too.
This book is beautiful in so many ways. It addresses the micro-aggressions that Muslim students face when their classmates are unfamiliar with certain practices, such as wearing the hijab. The book is written from a place of strength and disregard for the criticism that some of the other students engage in. Ibtihaj Muhammad has written a beautiful story that centralizes the Muslim experience with a story that familiarizes the practice of wearing a hijab that also can help other students learn to ignore teasing. The phrases that are yelled at Asiya are ones that Ibtihaj heard herself when she was growing up, being bullied for her religious beliefs that were shown by wearing a garment daily. Ibtihaj is an incredibly talented writer, and her words are full of strength and emotion. Her memoir is also excellent, we read it over the summer and enjoyed it very much!
About the Author & the Illustrator:
Ibtihaj Muhammad is an entrepreneur, activist, speaker and Olympic medalist in fencing. A 2016 Olympic bronze medalist, 5-time Senior World medalist and World Champion, in 2016, Ibtihaj became the first American woman to compete in the Olympics in hijab. Ibtihaj was a 3-time All American at Duke University where she graduated with a dual major in International Relations and African Studies. In 2014, Ibtihaj launched her own clothing company, Louella, which aims to bring modest, fashionable and affordable clothing to the United States market. In 2017, Mattel announced their first hijabi Barbie, modeled in Ibtihaj’s likeness, as part of Barbie’s “Shero” line of dolls. The Barbie became available for purchase in July 2018. Ibtihaj also released her debut memoir in July 2018, PROUD: My Fight for an Unlikely American Dream.
Ibtihaj is a sports ambassador with the U.S. Department of State’s Empowering Women and Girls through Sport Initiative, and works closely with organizations like Athletes for Impact and the Special Olympics. Named to Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential list, Ibtihaj is an important figure in a larger global discussion on equality and the importance of sport. Her voice continues to unite both the sports and non-sports world.
S. K. Ali is the author of Saints and Misfits, a finalist for the American Library Association’s 2018 William C. Morris award. Her debut novel won critical acclaim for its portrayal of an unapologetic Muslim-American teen’s life. Saints and Misfitswas featured on several Best Teen Novels of 2017 lists including from Entertainment Weekly, Kirkus Reviews and the New York Public Library. It was also a CBC Canada Reads 2018 longlist title and featured in the Globe and Mail, Toronto Star, NBC News, Huffington Post, Salon, Bustle, CBC Radio’s The Next Chapter, The Social, The Morning Show and other North American media.
She holds a degree in Creative Writing from York University and has written about Muslim life for various outlets, including the Toronto Star and NBC News. Her second novel, Love From A to Z, a story about finding love in the time of Islamophobia, will be published on April 30, 2019 by Simon & Schuster. She also has a picture book, The Proudest Blue, co-authored with Ibtihaj Muhammad, releasing in the fall of 2019, published by Little, Brown and Co. S. K. Ali lives in Toronto with her family and a very vocal cat named Yeti.
Hatem Aly is an an “Egyptian-born illustrator whose work has been featured on television and in multiple publications worldwide. Hatem currently lives in New Brunswick, Canada, with his wife, son, and more pets than people. When Hatem am not dealing with dogs barking and blank pieces of paper waiting to be filled, he draws, a lot. One of the books he drew is The Inquisitor’s Tale by Adam Gidwitz which won awards despite illustrations of a farting dragon, a 2 headed cat and stinky cheese.
Other books Hatem has illustrated are: Taksheera (Words by: Naseeba Alozeibi), and The Giant Egg (by: Thuraya Khaled)”