In MOON WATCHERS, by Reza Jalali, Shirin and her dad, looking through the tall trees in their backyard in Maine, search for a glimpse of the new moon, the sign that the month of Ramadan has begun. Ramadan is a time when Muslims around the world pray, fast, and pay special attention to doing good deeds. Shirin is nine and thinks she should be able to fast like her older brother Ali, but her parents feel she is still too young to go without food and water all day. When Shirin catches Ali sneaking food after school, she wonders: Should she tattle or is this an opportunity for a good deed?
In MOON WATCHERS, by Reza Jalali, Shirin and her dad, looking through the tall trees in their backyard in Maine, search for a glimpse of the new moon, the sign that the month of Ramadan has begun. Ramadan is a time when Muslims around the world pray, fast, and pay special attention to doing good deeds. Shirin is nine and thinks she should be able to fast like her older brother Ali, but her parents feel she is still too young to go without food and water all day. When Shirin catches Ali sneaking food after school, she wonders: Should she tattle or is this an opportunity for a good deed? Shirin feels left out when the others break their fasts to have their own meals after dark and in the early morning, before it is light again. But then her grandmother tells a story that shows her a way she can feel more a part of Ramadan and the traditions and closeness her family enjoys during this special month of the year. Her good deeds result in a surprise for everyone!
“This thought-provoking tale straddles American, Persian, and Islamic cultures. Shirin, nine, watches for the moon signaling the start of Ramadan. She is disappointed because she is too young to fast, but her father encourages her to do good deeds. Jalali depicts the Shia-Muslim form of prayer, which includes kissing a stone, and also touches on the issue of women covering their hair. Throughout the story, Shirin follows the waxing and waning stages of the moon and is delighted when she gets permission to do half-day fasts and even more pleased when it appears that she is able to cope with them better than her brother. To her astonishment, she discovers him secretly eating. She decides not to expose Ali and counts it as a good deed. As Ramadan ends, the family prepares for Eid-ul-Fitr. O’Brien’s watercolor illustrations evoke a culturally authentic Persian-American aesthetic, depicting warm characters in a family setting. An explanation of Ramadan and Eid is given in the back matter. This is another wonderful contribution to the slowly increasing collection of fictional books on the observance of Ramadan and a great resource for librarians and teachers.” -Fawzia Gilani-Williams, An-Noor School, Windsor, Ontario, School Library Journal: Gr. 1-4
“This moving picture book for older readers about a young Muslim girl and her family at Ramadan weaves together the traditional observance and its meaning with a lively drama of sibling rivalry. In her backyard in Maine, Shirin, 9, and her father watch for the new moon that starts the holy month. Shirin begs to be allowed to fast, like her older brother, Ali, 12, but she is furious when her family tells her she is too young. Then her parents decide to let her fast for part of the day, and she is thrilled. She also learns that Ramadan is about doing good deeds to help others. The unframed, intricately detailed, mixed-media illustrations show the siblings’ ugly standoffs (Shirin’s jealousy, Ali’s smugness), as well as the family at prayer, at the dinner table, and in warm close-ups. Along with the information about the holiday, there is a real story here: when Shirin helps Ali, it changes their relationship and reveals the meaning of the holiday.” -Hazel Rochman, Booklist: Grade 2-4
“In this lyrical telling of a contemporary story about Ramadan, Shirin watches the moon wax and wane with her father and learns to put sibling rivalry aside. Moon Watchers is rich in detail about one Muslim family’s life. The warmth of the telling and themes like family traditions and helping others will resonate with readers everywhere.” -Karen Lynn Williams, author of Galimoto; Four Feet, Two Sandal; and many other books for children.
“Reza Jalali has crafted a culturally sensitive narrative that introduces the reader to an important aspect of Islam: Ramadan. Nuances of culture and tradition are skillfully woven into the storyline. I highly recommend this book for teachers introducing diverse cultures from around the world.” -Tami Al-Hazza, Ph.D., Old Dominion University
Honors and Awards:
Skipping Stones Honor Award
Maine Literary Awards, Finalist
About the Author/Illustrator:
Reza Jalali is a teacher, writer, and community organizer. Originally from Iran, he has lived in Maine for over two decades. When not working at the University of Southern Maine or playing soccer for fun, he writes stories, which especially delight his children. A sky watcher, he believes we each have a star named after us. He continues to search the night sky to find his and those of his family and friends.
Anne Sibley O Brien (AnneSibleyOBrien.com) has illustrated twenty-nine books, including Talking Walls and three other titles by Margy Burns Knight, for which they received the 1997 National Education Association Author-Illustrator Human & Civil Rights Award. She has written thirteen of the books she illustrated, including The Legend of Hong Kil Dong: The Robin Hood of Korea, which received the Aesop Award and the Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature. Annie’s passion for multiracial, multicultural, and global subjects was kindled by her experience of being raised bilingual and bicultural in South Korea as the daughter of medical missionaries. She lives with her husband on an island in Maine and is the mother of two grown children.
|Dimensions||9 x 10.00 x 1.016 in|
Anne Sibley O’Brien