The Muslim holy month of Ramadan is a time of fasting and reflection. It begins with the sighting of the new moon, and because of the Islamic lunar calendar, gradually rotates through all of the seasons. It concludes with a three-day feast called Eid al Fitr, a welcome celebration after a month of total fasting from sunrise to sunset everyday. Muslims fast "to show obedience to God's commands...and share the experience of those who are poor." Even a young boy like Ibraheem, a fourth grader in Princeton, New Jersey, knows what it is like to fast. His family's celebration of Ramadan and Eid is beautifully photographed and explained in this book. Many of the scenes look strikingly American—boys playing basketball, children making holiday cookies and wrapping presents, youngsters escaping to their computer games during family celebrations. Other photos are not yet as familiar to most of us—women wearing the traditional hijab or head covering, Ibraheem at prayer facing Mecca or kneeling on the floor, and verses in Arabic from the Koran. "Ibraheem and his family have challenged themselves to live according to God's command. However, since they live in the United States, they are in a minority. Sometimes their ways are misunderstood by others." Celebrating Ramadan is an excellent bridge to begin understanding this fastest growing religion in the United States. 2001, Holiday House, $16.95. Ages 8 up. Reviewer:Karen Leggett
School Library Journal
Gr 3-7-In this very fine photo-essay, text and photographs combine to present information about Islam and the special month of Ramadan, as well as a picture of the family life of an American fourth grader, Ibraheem. Topics include a general introduction to Islam's beginning, basic beliefs and practices, the revelations received by Muhammad, the Qur'an, the Islamic forms for praying, and more. Ibraheem and his family are shown as they celebrate Ramadan, the month of daylight fasting. The boy's Islamic school, his mosque, his extended family, and the centrality of religion in his life are conveyed in warm, full-color photographs and sympathetic text. Sidebars spotlight a cookie recipe, the Islamic lunar calendar, and a map of that portion of the world where Islam is the predominant religion. Emphasis on the variety of Islamic peoples is provided within Ibraheem's own family, of Bosnian and Egyptian backgrounds. Teachers and librarians might pair Celebrating Ramadan with Mary Matthews' short novel Magid Fasts for Ramadan (Clarion, 1996), set in Egypt, for a child-centered look at one of the world's major religions.-Coop Renner, Moreno Elementary School, El Paso, TX Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Hoyt-Goldsmith follows a young boy, Ibraheem, and his family during Ramadan. To make this holy month understandable, the author has included some background information about Islam in sidebars and integrated into the text. People of diverse cultural backgrounds practice Islam in the US; this variety is demonstrated in the text throughout the book and reinforced in the photographs of the celebration of Eid al-Fitr in the family's mosque in Princeton, New Jersey. Pronunciation of Arabic words and phrases is given in parentheses inserted into the text. There are both glossary and index, but no bibliography. The book is illustrated with clear, often charming, full-color photographs and one map. But the work does have its flaws. The status of women in Islam, a fairly complex subject, is reduced to one sentence. Captions on some photographs could have been clearer and more consistent. For example, one picture of a young girl with henna designs on her hands is included, but the correct term for this art form, mehndi, is not given. Despite omissions and minor inconsistencies, Celebrating Ramadan provides a respectful, if superficial, introduction to Islam and Ramadan's importance in that religious practice. It can't help but be useful to librarians and teachers because of the rapidly increasing numbers of Islamic people in the US and the scarcity of books for children on the subject. (Nonfiction. 8-11)