________________ CM . . . . Volume XXIV Number 18. . . . January 12, 2017


The Little Tree’s Ramadan Adventure.

Eman Salem. Translated by Tareq Salem.
London, ON: Compass Books, 2016.
24 pp., stapled pbk. & pdf, $9.50 (pbk.).
ISBN 978-0-9868481-7-9 (pbk.), ISBN 978-0-9868481-8-6 (pdf).

Preschool-grade 3 / Ages 4-8.

Review by Waqas Awan & Tamara Opar.

** /4



“Wake up, my friend,” the old man whispered, settling into his favorite spot under the shade of the oak tree.

“We have a package from our friend Tamara.”

“Tamara?” exclaimed the old tree, waking up from his afternoon slumber with a start. “That name certainly brings back fond memories.”

“It sure does,” said the old man, chuckling as he tore open the parcel. Inside the parcel was a sack of plump, delicious dates. Their mouths watered at the sight, but they would have to wait until sunset to taste the sweet treats. They were fasting for Ramadan.

“Good old Tamara,” said the old tree. “Do you remember when we first met her?”

“How could I ever forget?” replied the old man.


The Little Tree’s Ramadan Adventure is both written and illustrated by Eman Salem who grew up in Canada with a Palestinian Muslim heritage. The story of two friends travelling together is written from a heart laced with the roots of personal understanding and familiarity with Muslim traditions.

     The story begins with the friends, old man and old tree, receiving a special gift from an old friend, the gift prompting the memory of how they met Tamara on a journey during Ramadan. The meeting with Tamara the date palm is surprising to the two friends as she is not receptive to their drinking water and refreshing themselves in her pond. The two friends share their story and the teachings of Ramadan with Tamara who learns about the true meaning of this holiday and realizes that being kind by sharing her sweet fruits rather than pelting them at strangers is a better way to live.

     My co-writer Waqas shared this story with his little three-year-old daughter. Together, they enjoyed the story of the old man and the little tree’s Ramadan adventure, and Waqas made a point of telling me that he truly loved the story. I can relate to his feelings about reading stories about my own culture and traditions with my daughters as they were growing up. It’s wonderful to find a book at school or at the library that relates to one’s own special customs. It brings on a feeling of pride and joy to be able to share this find with friends and family.

     My own reading of this story had a different perspective as I am not familiar with the customs of Ramadan. I feel that this book needs an introduction wherein the author explains the holiday as well as some of the vocabulary to a reader who is not familiar with Ramadan traditions. There is a glossary at the end which excludes the term Hajj. This part of the story confused me a little as it’s not quite clear that the two friends are discussing their Hajj, pilgrimage to Mecca, while on a different journey. Perhaps this was due to my not knowing the term.

     As we learn about the importance of diversity in our world, I think that adding an introduction would make the story more accessible to the general population. The message of Ramadan certainly comes through in the writing when the two friends help the date palm to understood her mistake.

     The Illustrations are colourful and highlight the events of the story.

     The Little Tree’s Ramadan Adventure is presented in dual language, English and Arabic.


Waqas Awan is a Customer Service Assistant at the Millennium Branch of Winnipeg Public Library.
Tamara Opar is Section Head of Children’s and Teen Services at the Millennium Branch of Winnipeg Public Library.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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