A subtle, captivating glimpse of another way of life, with a regrettably generalized author’s note about the significance of...

UNDER THE BAOBAB TREE

A brother and sister travel to a special gathering under a gigantic baobab tree in this quiet, beautifully illustrated story set in a rural area of an unnamed African country.

The siblings walk together down a dusty road on their way to a nearby village, where the large baobab tree is located. The story relates different events that happen under the tree: a visit from the market wagon, elders meeting to discuss village business, a storyteller recounting tales of heroes. A repeated refrain builds anticipation: “But who will gather today under the baobab tree?” During their journey, the children spot some intriguing sights such as gazelle around a watering hole and a termite mound. When they reach the baobab tree at last, they join other people waiting under the tree, and it gradually becomes apparent that this is an outdoor church service with just the basic elements: “a cross and a Bible, a pastor and songs, voices and prayers.” Evocative watercolor illustrations make effective use of sunlight and shadows to create a warm, realistic world that shimmers in the African heat.  

A subtle, captivating glimpse of another way of life, with a regrettably generalized author’s note about the significance of the baobab tree in African culture. (Picture book/religion. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-310-72561-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Zonderkidz

Review Posted Online: March 28, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2012

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An uplifting, rhyming picture book offering food for the soul.

A SPOONFUL OF FAITH

A mother teaches her daughter a special recipe to help feed her faith.

Layla, a young, brown-skinned girl, is ready yet nervous for her first day of school. Seeking a confidence boost, she goes in search of her mom—“’Cause mamas can help / when you need love and calm”—and finds her in the kitchen. “Hey, sweetie, sit here / Let’s make a quick meal / that’s full of good things / to help how you feel,” her mother suggests and fishes out a recipe book. The recipe for the meal includes many ingredients, but none of them are tangible. Instead, courage, “a spoonful of faith,” “dashes of kindness,” “handfuls of hope,” “pinches of prayers,” and warm hugs go into the mixing bowl. To concretize these virtues, the artwork uses a visual motif of hearts and flowers. Once the meal is ready, Layla hesitantly looks into the bowl, unsure what to make of the imaginary repast, but a word of wisdom from Mama helps her realize the true source of her emotional sustenance and strength. The illustrations, created using digital watercolor, pencil, and gouache brushes in Procreate, are soothing, with soft pastel colors. While God is mentioned, there are no references to any specific religion.

An uplifting, rhyming picture book offering food for the soul. (author's note) (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 15, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-06-301781-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 3, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2021

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With a universal message of love and community, this book offers a beautiful representation of a too-often-overlooked...

MOMMY'S KHIMAR

From a debut author-and-illustrator team comes a glimpse into a young American Muslim girl’s family and community as she walks around in “Mommy’s khimar,” or headscarf.

The star of this sunny picture book is a young girl who finds joy in wearing her mother’s khimar, imagining it transforms her into a queen, a star, a mama bird, a superhero. At the core of the story is the love between the girl and her mother. The family appears to be African-American, with brown skin and textured hair. The girl’s braids and twists “form a bumpy crown” under the khimar, which smells of coconut oil and cocoa butter. Adults in her life delight in her appearance in the bright yellow khimar, including her Arabic teacher at the mosque, who calls it a “hijab,” and her grandmother, who visits after Sunday service and calls out “Sweet Jesus!” as she scoops her granddaughter into her arms. Her grandmother is, apparently, a Christian, but “We are a family and we love each other just the same.” The illustrations feature soft pastel colors with dynamic lines and gently patterned backgrounds that complement the story’s joyful tone. The words are often lyrical, and the story artfully includes many cultural details that will delight readers who share the cheerful protagonist’s culture and enlighten readers who don’t.

With a universal message of love and community, this book offers a beautiful representation of a too-often-overlooked cultural group . (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 3, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5344-0059-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Salaam Reads/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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