Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Nabeel's New Pants: An Eid Tale

Nabeel's New Pants: An Eid Tale
retold by Fawzia Gilani-Williams
illustrated by Proiti Roy
Marshall Cavendish, 2010
review copy provided by the publisher

I was so excited when I saw the title of this book. At my school, we have at least two boys named Nabeel. We also have Mariams and Yasmeens. We have kids whose mothers wear burqas and dupattas and who make biryani and sheerkorma, kids who celebrate Eid and who go to mosques.

In this folktale, Nabeel buys Eid gifts for his mother, his wife, and his daughter. The shopkeeper convinces him to buy a new pair of pants for himself, but the only pair that fits is too long. Each time Nabeel gives a gift, he asks if the recipient will hem his pants for him, but they are all too busy getting ready for Eid. Finally, Nabeel hems his own pants and sets off to visit the poor and sick and give them money for Eid. Each woman, thinking of how thoughtful Nabeel has been to them, takes a minute away from her work and hems his pants for him. When he gets back and dresses to go to the mosque for Eid, his pants only come to his knees! Everyone laughs, the pants are restored to a proper length, and off the family goes to the mosque.

I had our Arabic-speaking Community Liaison read this book and tell me what she thought of it. She loved that Muslims depicted in this book are not Middle Eastern. So often, she said, the stereotype is that only Middle Easterners are Muslim, when in fact, big chunks of Africa, India and Indonesia are also Muslim.

She also loved that the Muslims in this book are cheerful and laughing, which breaks another stereotype that Muslims are dour and serious.

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