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The Proudest Blue: A Story of Hijab and Family Hardcover – Picture Book, September 10, 2019
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From the Publisher
* "Memorable and inspiring... Triumphant and true."―Kirkus Reviews, starred review
* "A lovely blend of emotional lyricism and closely observed everyday life."―Publishers Weekly, starred review
* "Aly's ink-wash-and-pencil illustrations settle and soar along with the language.... This story, as both window and mirror, inevitably educates, but more important, it encourages pride in and respect for hijab through a tale of two sisters, their bond strengthened by faith."―Booklist, starred review
* "This excellent story about identity, visibility, and confidence, touches on rites of passage, bonds between sisters, and bullying and is unapologetic in tackling misconceptions and demanding equality."―School Library Journal, starred review
"Hatem Aly's ink-wash and watercolour illustrations perfectly complement the lyricism of Muhammed and Ali's moving text."―The Globe and Mail
About the Author
Hatem Aly is an Egyptian-born illustrator whose work has been featured on television and in multiple publications worldwide. Among other books, he illustrated Newbery Honor winning novel The Inquisitor's Tale by Adam Gidwitz. He currently lives in New Brunswick, Canada, with his wife, son, and more pets than people.
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It is the first day of school for sisters Asiya and Faizah, and Faizah's first day of wearing hijab. The book starts out with the girls and their mom picking out a new scarf at the store.
The first day of school has the girls walking to school hand in hand, Asiya in her beautiful blue scarf, and Faizah in her new shoes admiring her sister as if she were a princess.
In line a classmate whisper asks Faizah about her sister, and Faizah has to find her voice to speak up about her hijab. She then likens the blue hijab to the sky, special and regular before recalling that their mom had told them "The first day of wearing hijab is important. . . It means being strong."
Throughout the day at school Faizah checks on her sister, sees other kids make fun of her, liken the blue to something beautiful, and then recall something their mom has told them to give her solace and strength.
As Faizah puts into practice the lessons from her mom about being strong, knowing who you are, and not carrying around hurtful words, she, like her sister finds strength. A strength which radiates to those around them, and further connects the two girls.
Faizah has an amazingly sweet and authentic voice as she counts her light up steps and looks up to her older sister. I love that the story stays on track and has its own rhythm of a school incident, a strong declaration about blue, a lesson remembered from Mama and a resolution. With lots of mini climaxes the reader sees the strong perseverance and how being authentic will be challenged repeatedly. The subtly of the hijab being whispered about and then proclaimed loudly is really tender and emotion filled. Little reminders why OWN Voice stories are so important.
The illustrations are absolutely amazing. the colors, tone, expressions, are perfect and a huge part of the narrative. I love that when a boy points at Asiya, not just Faizah, but Asiya's friends too are unhappy with the boy. I also like that the boys being mean are not depicted clearly, but rather are shown in the shadows, furthering the point that mean words and those that spout them are not worthy of your time.
There are Authors' Notes at the end and a picture of Ibtihaj and her two sisters Asiya and Faizah. I think the book should be on every shelf, truly. To be yourself and be proud of who you are is universal, as is kindness. The book does not discuss religion or mention Islamic reasons for her covering, and girls and boys alike will benefit from multiple readings of the book.
Beautiful colors and cute artwork.
I got this book because it’s the first (maybe the only) little kid’s picture book I’ve seen that had a girl in hijab, in English, that isn’t about religion (we’re Christian). I think
I also liked the letter at the end from the author - when I read this with my older child I had them read that, too.
Written by Olympic medalist Ibtihaj Muhammad, "The Proudest Blue" tells the story of two Muslim sisters attending school, the youngest watching with pride as her older sibling wears a hijab for the first time. Her pride soon turns to confusion when young Faizah witnesses other children taunting Asiya for looking different from themselves, for wearing what they mockingly call a "tablecloth." Faizah refuses to let the bullies diminish her pride, insisting on comparing her sister's hijab not to an inanimate tablecloth but to a strong, friendly, blue ocean in motion. She also figuratively joins her sister in wearing a hijab in the picture she draws of the two of them during class, then literally as she marches away from the schoolyard bullies, refusing to engage with them or allow their words to diminish her strength of identity. Asiya, too, stands resolute at the end of the day, smiling and strong, the two sisters even more bonded together than ever before.
The illustrations beautifully reinforce the beauty, bonds, and strength emanating from the narrative. Illustrator Hatem Aly depicts the hijab with imaginative and emotionally evocative flair, giving it a life of its own. First filling the brilliant blue hijab with tiny clouds like a perfect day, then later bestowing it with the forward movement of irrepressible ocean waves, and finally wrapping it around the resolute face of Asiya with her unblinking eyes, Aly illustrates the hijab as a beautiful, unwavering presence in these girls' lives. That Aly refuses to grant the bullies faces on the page, but fills whole spreads with Asiya's countenance, denies hate even any pictorial power in this book. The connection drawn between the sisters--through hands held, footsteps in the other's shadows, and faces turned toward one another--comprise other attentive illustrative touches.
This stunning book is a work of art that will not only mirror to its hijab-wearing readers their own internal strength but also present other readers with a humanizing portrayal of Muslim children and a compelling anti-bullying message.
Top international reviews
I have been patiently waiting for this book at our local library. And let me tell you, it was well worth the wait. This book is AMAZING. So many beautiful gems come through this picture book. Family, love, courage, strength, identity. I love every single page - each one uniquely carries a powerful message that beautifully comes through the text as well as the illustrations. It is evident that the execution of the story line is done with great effort and care. The protagonist is presented in such a realistic way as she expresses herself in her childish, playful manners while simultaneously navigating through the negativity of others. The love and bond between the sisters is a beautiful thing. The way Faizah experiences her sisters first day of hijab is incredible - she worries about her, she checks in with her to make sure she is okay, she thinks about her while in class, she is proud of her bravery and strength, she aspires to be just like her. Although, their mother is only shown on the first page of the book, her encouraging words and wisdom is remembered by Faizah as her guide during the ups and downs of her day. Not only does this book need to be in every Muslim home, school and masjid, it would be a wonderful addition to any classroom as well. This story sets a new high bar for all the hijab picture books out there.
My daughter loved it💙 and I loved it too!!