**Thank you to NetGalley and ABRAMS Kids for the opportunity to review this Advance Reader Copy. This book will be released on May 5, 2020.
When I was younger, one of my favorite parts of the Jewish holidays were all of the books and stories that went along with them. Hanukkah was one holiday with endless books that I enjoyed, but one of my favorites was While the Candles Burn: Eight Stories for Hanukkah by Barbara Diamond Goldin. I think I liked this book so much because it had eight stories, each one different and each one representing a different Jewish experience. Once Upon an Eid, edited by S.K. Ali and Aisha Saeed, includes 15 stories of one of the most joyous celebrations of the year for Muslims around the world. It reminded me of reading While the Candles Burn because it shares many stories of a diverse community of people all celebrating the same holiday in different ways.
One thing that makes Once Upon an Eid even more special is that each story is written by a different author, meaning that readers are instantly introduced to fifteen storytellers who have written many books of their own. The characters live all around the world and reflect the true cultural and ethnic diversity of Islam. One story by Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow explores the tension that Hawa faces when she travels with her family to New York to visit her father’s Guinean family members. Hawa and her mother do not speak Mandinka or French, or at least very little, which has led to them feeling left out in the past. However, Eid and it’s colorful celebrations bring the family together.
In another piece, by N.H. Senzai, Bassem is in Greece after a dangerous escape from Syria. The hunger he experiences after a day of fasting during Ramadan feels different than the hunger of war. But even surrounded by family, Bassem can’t help but think of his father who died fighting in Syria. It is by preparing an elaborate celebration for Eid that Bassem finds joy in such difficult times.
It isn’t just Muslim children who will benefit from reading this book, though. While they will be reminded that there are millions of people around the world celebrating this holiday, children who are not of this faith will learn more about Islam and its beautiful traditions. That is definitely something to celebrate.
Identity 1: I know and like who I am and can talk about my family and myself and describe our various group identities.
Diversity 6: I like knowing people who are like me and different from me, and I treat each person with respect.
Diversity 8: I want to know more about other people’s lives and experiences, and I know how to ask questions respectfully and listen carefully and non-judgmentally.
RL.2- Determine a theme of a story, drama, or poem from details in the text, including how characters in a story or drama respond to challenges or how the speaker in a poem reflects upon a topic; summarize the text. (The neat thing about short story collections is that students have multiple opportunities to identify theme.)
RL.6- Describe how a narrator’s or speaker’s point of view influences how events are described.