Thursday, December 23, 2010

Little House on the Prairie by Sister Kari Ansari

Another series of books I read as a child are the Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Laura Ingalls Wilder grew up as a child on the American prairie with her wanderlust father, mother, and sisters. Her biographical books begin in “the big woods” of Wisconsin and follow her life as her family pioneered across the Midwest. As you read the books you are amazed at how tough these folks were as they survived and settled the western territories that are now Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Kansas, South Dakota, and Missouri. As the natural world around them was harsh and wild, the family remained kind and gentle to each other.

What is wonderful about the books in addition to the honest voice in which she wrote about her life is the way the books grow in sophistication with her as she grew into a young woman. The Christian values taught by Laura’s parents are quite similar to those a Muslim family values, and I also think these books offer insight into true Christian family life that can be very relatable to a Muslim child.

While this series is written primarily about girls, boys will be quite interested in Laura’s life as well. Farmer Boy is the story of Laura’s husband, Almanzo Wilder and may be the first book of hers to be given to your son. Once he get a taste of Mrs. Wilder’s books, your son may be inspired to read more.

If your child enjoys one of these books, keep your eyes open for the Scholastic book flyer that usually comes home from school with your kids. They usually offer this boxed set for a great discount. It’s well worth it!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Series of Unfortunate Events

Review by Sister Kari Ansari

I simply love these books. If ever there was a children’s author who respected the intelligence and sophistication of his readers, it’s this author. These books use language in a manner that is so engaging, intelligent and fun, your kids don’t even realize that they are enriching their vocabulary while reading. The stories feature the misadventures of three orphaned siblings, the Baudelaires, who, by using their own intelligence and wit overcome all sorts of outlandish misfortunes. I recommend these books for kids no younger than 3rd or 4th grade, as they are more sophisticated in theme and plot than the books referenced above. Publisher’s Weekly writes, The author uses formal, Latinate language and intrusive commentary to hilarious effect, even for readers unfamiliar with the literary conventions he parodies. The peril in which he places the Baudelaires may be frightening (Count Olaf actually follows through on his threats of violence on several occasions), but the author paints the satire with such broad strokes that most readers will view it from a safe distance.

Book Recommendations Ages 9-12+ by Sister Freda Shamma

Hiaasen, Carl. Flush. Noah’s dad is passionate about the environment, but reacts without thinking and ends up in jail. Noah and his younger sister, Abbey, have to get proof of the polluting gambling casino. The parents are portrayed as multi-dimensional characters with virtues and flaws, and everyone has an important role in the family.

Spinelli, Jerry. The Library Card. Four humorous and tender stories about how a library card can change lives. Parents are shown as positive, and supporting. says, “Street kid Mongoose must decide whether to follow a friend clearly on his way to trouble or seek his own path. April, just moved from New York to an isolated farm, needs a friend. Deprived of television for a week, young Brenda must learn to handle her restlessness and figure out whom, besides those goofballs on television, lives inside her head. A grieving Sonseray, barely realizing he’s in need, finds comfort and a reassuring connection to his dead mother.”

Nicholson, William. The Wind Singer, Book 1 in the Wind on Fire Trilogy. One of the twins is all action, and the other is all feeling, including feeling whatever another person is feeling. Together they are forced to leave their loving family and go into the unknown world to find the key that will make the wind singer tower sing, which will free them from the sinister Morah.   Although they are afraid of the different groups of people they encounter, they learn that most of them are basically kind people.

Helwani, Najiyah Diana. Sophia’s Journal: Time Warp 1857. A modern Muslim American hijab-wearing girl hits her head and wakes up in Kansas, in 1857. She learns to deal with the facts that she is the only Muslim in the area, and there are no modern conveniences; and to trust that Allah has a reason for putting her there. This is an excellent historical novel, with excellent character development of a strong Muslim teen that has to deal with important issues such as slavery, and marriage with no Muslim males in sight.

Stewart, Trenton Lee. The Mysterious Benedict Society. Four brilliant children with different kinds of intelligence work together to thwart an evil plan. Three of them are eleven years old, and the fourth seems to be an uncooperative midget. One has a photographic memory and is a speed-reader. The second is a logical thinker, and the third has the intelligence and skill to solve problems in a physical way (rope climbing, etc.). The ‘midget’ turns out to be a very precocious two year old, with the clear mind and absolute stubbornness of her age. They all seem to be orphans, but at the end are reunited with their families or adopted by loving people.

Crossposted from Muslim Family Life

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

From the Mixed-up Files of Basil E. Frankenweiler

Book Review By Zayni

Claudia was a big sister who had to do every chore in the house, she was not treated nicely and her parents didn’t seem to care at all. Claudia wanted to leave her boring, unfair life so she thought of running away. Claudia has to convince her brother, Jamie, to come along, because she knew that her brother had saved up his allowance. So Jamie and Claudia pack clothes in their instrument cases and run away to the marvelous Metropolitan Museum of Art. On their run, Claudia and Jamie find it’s hard to get food with so little money. They hide in the bathroom and bathe in the fountain!

One day a beautiful sculpture was brought to the museum. No one knows exactly what it is and if they find out they would get to keep it. Claudia and Jamie love the sculpture and go to the library to research but all their efforts are useless. They didn’t find anything until Claudia sees the signature of Michelangelo. Very excited she makes a call for an appointment with the mysterious Mrs. Frankenweiler. Was the sculpture made by Michelangelo? will they return home? find out by reading this book by E.L. Konigsburg
What I disliked= she ran awayIssues raised: Chores, eldest sibling issuesMuslim Concerns: running away, gambling, cheating, lying, keeping secretsWhat I rate= amazing book- MashaAllah
Muslim Mama’s POV: Sure the kids run away but we have all had this fantasy as kids, I could certainly relate to this story as a firstborn girl. This book lets kids live out this fantasy in a safe way. The children are not morally all there though, they lie & cheat without remorse and are not terribly concerned about their parents either.
As for Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, who would not want to have someone like in their lives, like a mysterious, wise, rich Aunt with filing cabinets full of secrets?
"...Some days you must learn a great deal. But you should also have days when you allow what is already in you to swell up inside of you until it touches everything. And you can feel it inside you. If you never take time out to let that happen, then you just accumulate facts, and they begin to rattle around inside of you. You can make noise with them, but never really feel anything with them. It's hollow."
What age should read the book= 8-11 years

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Ramona Quimby, Age 8

Book Review by Zayni

Ramona likes being big enough for responsibility, but must everything count on her? Ramona is having a hard time at her babysitter, Mrs. Kemp’s house because of Willa Jean, a spoiled, little rich kid, who blames everything on poor Ramona. But there’s more…. her parents are have a hard time with money, sometimes they quarrel and other times just LAUGH!!

Ramona finally gets to ride the bus alone but Yard Ape is bullying Ramona a lot, I tell you. Ramona is really scared about which teacher she gets and whether she will like her? She lands herself in funny situations! Will Ramona’s life ever be normal and happy? Find out by reading Ramona Quimby, Age 8 by Beverly Cleary.

What I like: Ramona keeps trying and does not give up whether it is learning to ride a bike or reading- You can read it when you are older to remember what it was like to be 8 and if you are young than you can read it see what being 8 is like. Her family spends time together.

Issues addressed: dad going back to college, mom having to work, bullying, money, teachers, love of reading, bragging

Muslim parents concerns: 8 year-old girl liking a boy, siblings being mean to each other, gossiping

Muslim Mama’s POV: It is a great reminder to adults (parents or teachers) about how our words have an effect on young minds. Also reinforces the idea that any challenges a kid is facing in school or with friends they can always turn to their home/family for support. Ramona’s journey in learning how to read fluently until she can finally read for pleasure is something we can use to encourage the love of reading in our own kids.

Illustrations: Some

What we rate - Amazing Book! MashaAllah

What age should read it – 7-11 years old