CM . . .
. Volume XXIV Number 11. . . .November 17, 2017
One Perfect Eid Day and No More Cake!
Suzanne Muir. Illustrated by Azra Momin.
London, ON: Compass Books, 2017.
24 pp., stapled pbk., $9.00.
'Eid al-Fitr-Juvenile literature.
Fasts and feasts-Islam-Juvenile literature.
Preschool-kindergarten / Ages 2-5.
Review by Dave Jenkinson.
One month of Ramadan comes to an end.
Two Eid cards left to decorate for friends.
According to Wikipedia, "Eid al-Fitr, ('feast of breaking the fast') is an important religious holiday celebrated by Muslims worldwide that marks the end of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of fasting (sawm).
Though the book's title does not indicate so, One Perfect Eid Day and No More Cake! is actually a thematic counting book, one that uses things or activities connected to celebrating Eid as the objects for youngsters to count. The brief text is rendered in rhyming couplets. As the excerpt reveals, the numbers are rendered only in words. What makes this counting book different from most others, beyond its theme, is that it "counts" up from one to ten before counting back down from ten to one.
One Perfect Eid Day and No More Cake! is successful, only in part, as a counting book. Given the book's intended young audience, author Muir was generally aware of the need to select concrete things, as opposed to concepts, for children to count, with the three exceptions being "One month", "One perfect Eid day" and "Four lunch parties".
Momin's colourful, cartoon-like illustrations were sometimes quite challenging, especially for the younger end of the book's audience who may not have arrived at the stage where they can generalize from a part to the whole. For example, with Five bubbling pots warm delicious treats", of Momin's five pots, only one is shown in its entirety while just a very small portion of a red pot can be seen peeking out at the bottom of the page.
The most demanding illustration is the double-page spread for "Ten sleepy cousins rose for morning prayers" in which two of the cousins appear only as pairs of feet while a third is just an arm holding a stuffed rabbit..
Another very challenging illustration is that linked to "Seven silver streamers spiral across the walls". Children will quickly see that six streamers start at the left edge of the double page spread and six end at the right edge of the spread. But where is the seventh? Some sleuthing will reveal that one streamer starts at the top of the spread before exiting at the right edge while one of the left edge starters exits at the top of the spread.
And will younger readers looking at the illustration for "Nine new toys wait for their players" understand that three of the toys are still gift-wrapped?
Youngsters would likely be at a complete loss in trying to find something to count in Momin's illustration that accompanies the text of "countdown" nine, "Nine last stitches fit the Eid dress to my size", as no "stitches" can be seen in Momin's rendering of the dress.
Despite the challenges identified above, in many cases Momin's illustrations do work in portraying what children are to count, things like "eight red balloons", "eight tasty rotis" or"ten eager eyes". On a reread, Momin's detailed artwork provides adults with opportunities to review other numbers with their children. For example, on the opening one/two page, there are, among other things, two presents, three vegetables on the window sill and four balloons. And young children will enjoy finding the white cat that repeatedly pops up throughout the book. Momin's children are gender and racially inclusive, and some of her girls are wearing hijabs.
Given One Perfect Eid Day and No More Cake!'s connection to a Muslim religious holiday, it may have greater appeal to followers of Islam, but, as a counting book, it will be of use to anyone.
Dave Jenkinson, CM's editor, lives in Winnipeg, MB.
© CM Association
University of Manitoba
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