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LOVE! Yes, usually when I'm so anxious for a book it disappoints, but not this one, it warmed my heart and soul and made me smile. In 40 pages surrounded with absolutely adorable illustrations, the reader feels the love between siblings, the strength of self confidence, the power of being true to yourself, the beauty of hijab, and the awesomeness of light-up sneakers and five cartwheel recesses. 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.
I bought this book for my classroom because I always look for multicultural books and diverse authors. This isn't just a story about Islam or hijab, but at the story about siblings, family, School, and life. My students found it very relatable! It's very well written and the illustrations are beautiful.
Nice, simple story from the perspective of the younger daughter watching her sister on her first wear wearing hijab. 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.
This is an exceptional book. I loved how dynamic the characters are and it’s awesome to see a girl wearing a hijab being the main character. My white 6 year old daughter asked numerous questions about Islam and we had a great conversation about the character who was bullied for her hijab. I’ve caught her looking at the picture of the two princesses wearing hijabs numerous times on her own. This is a frequent request at bedtime. Great story, great pictures, great message.
This stunning picture book celebrates the beauty of the Muslim hijab tradition, the bond of sisters, and the strength to stand tall when bullied.
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.
Just read this book with my 2 girls who are 7 and 12. WE ALL thoroughly enjoyed it!! This is a very special book that speaks to all and just show how a simple piece of cloth can be so powerful! thank you for writing this and looking forward to more of your written work!
My elementary school aged child learned lessons about being proud and strong in the face of bullying, about valuing differences between ourselves and others, and about love. The illustrations are lovely and the writing is good.
This is a fantastic children's book. It has a lovely story that demonstrates pride and confidence in being who we are, even if we have differences that others don't understand. It deals with bullying with grace and strength. The illustrations are vivid and emotional in the most captivating ways. The children are diverse and we could see characters that looked like our own child and our friends. Our toddler enjoyed it from the first time reading it. We loved that we have another story on our shelves that celebrates the beautiful diversity surrounding us, one that highlights the beauty of a hijab and those who wear it.
I own a little licensed daycare/preschool. I’ve told every preschool/daycare provider I know about this book. We are doing an ‘around the world’ unit this summer and I have kids 3-5. I bought this book for the week we talked about Egypt & the Middle East. This book is beautiful to look at. As soon as the kids discovered this in our classroom they were FASCINATED. They couldn’t wait for the unit to come up for me to read it & asked every day. I’m in a weird little pocket of the PNW that is not very diverse. As a provider I loved that this book gave us the perfect opportunity to talk about and explore hijab without any kindof religious subtext to potentially concern parents. We talked about how the little sister was so proud of her big sister & her beautiful hijab. We talked about how the big sister was so strong and brave. We talked about how the words of the disrespectful boys in the story would make us feel and how the mother had taught the girls that hurtful words belonged to the people who said them and were not theirs to keep. It was such a *perfect* story to bring about the conversation of what hijab is, to help the children respect and appreciate the beauty in cultural differences.