My Friend Jamal

Overview

Different cultures. Fast friends.

Jamal and Joseph were born in the same hospital in the same month. Now they're best friends. The two like to play at each other's homes. Joseph's mom knows Jamal can't eat pork sausages because he's Muslim. She knows, too, that he can't have ice cream because of his eczema.

Some things that happen at Jamal's house are a lot different from Joseph's: the food his mother prepares, the way they sit to eat, and the ...

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Overview

Different cultures. Fast friends.

Jamal and Joseph were born in the same hospital in the same month. Now they're best friends. The two like to play at each other's homes. Joseph's mom knows Jamal can't eat pork sausages because he's Muslim. She knows, too, that he can't have ice cream because of his eczema.

Some things that happen at Jamal's house are a lot different from Joseph's: the food his mother prepares, the way they sit to eat, and the special clothes they sometimes wear. Jamal and Joseph like to play superheroes and cheer their favorite basketball stars. They even say they're going to sign with the same team when they grow up.

A poignant story about a childhood friendship where unfamiliar cultures meet, My Friend Jamal lets readers sample the differences and recognize the powerful bond that draws two boys together. The visuals, which combine photography and original art, are wonderfully playful and imaginative.

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Editorial Reviews

Booklist
What's great in this book ...is that the friendship celebrates not only connections by also rich diversity.
— Hazel Rochman
Children's Literature - Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
Young Joseph introduces us to his friend Jamal, who is Somali but was born in the same hospital as Joseph. As he talks about their relationship, he notes the differences between them. He mentions that Jamal, as a Muslim, cannot eat sausages at his house; at the same time, he notes the fact that Jamal cannot drink milk because of his eczema. He discusses Jamal's mother's different cooking as he describes the games they play together. The reasons Jamal's family left Somalia are touched upon, as is the fact that it is too dangerous there for Jamal to go back to visit his grandmother; Joseph, on the other hand, can enjoy his grandmother's visits any time. Joseph's notes on what he has learned about his friend's culture add to the usefulness of this matter-of-fact picture of mutual respect and cross-culture harmony. Frey combines McQuinn's photographs of faces, arms, and some items, like food, with casual paintings of clothing, bodies, buildings, and so forth. Together, they fill the pages, defining the personalities of the two friends while offering sufficient images of places to give a sense of their experiences. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal

K-Gr 3- Joseph describes his friendship with Jamal, a boy whose family immigrated to the United States from Somalia. He discusses their similarities-they both like to play superheroes and basketball and they sometimes get in trouble at school for talking too much-as well as their differences. Jamal's family reads the Koran, while Joseph's has a Bible; Joseph is intrigued when Jamal's mother serves pasta with bananas. The text is written in a breathless style with lots of dashes and exclamation marks to capture the casual speech of a child. Topics mentioned are of interest to young readers, such as food, smells (their mothers use different spices), games, etc. The lively, brightly colored collages consist of original photographs of the main characters and stock photos of food or objects with thickly painted outlines and accents added. Both text and pictures project an energetic, friendly tone, with the exception of one page that shows several men holding guns. Joseph says, "Jamal's mom and dad were born in Somalia, in Africa-but a lot of fighting started and people were getting killed. It was very dangerous, so they had to escape. They came here because there's no fighting." A useful title for discussing friendship or the reasons for emigrating.-Lucinda Snyder Whitehurst, St. Christopher's School, Richmond, VA

Booklist - Hazel Rochman
The clear, full-color illustrations, a combination of photos and painted details, show the boys together, whispering in class, playing ball, sharing different foods, performing in a concert. What's great in this book in the new My Friend series is that the friendship celebrates not only connections by also rich diversity.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781554511228
  • Publisher: Annick Press, Limited
  • Publication date: 2/21/2008
  • Series: My Friend Series
  • Pages: 32
  • Age range: 4 - 7 Years
  • Lexile: 660L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 7.30 (w) x 10.00 (h) x 0.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Anna McQuinn is a part-time writer whose literacy workshops often involve children and families for whom English is not their first language. Her picture books include Lola at the Library and Wanda's Washing Machine. She lives in England.

Ben Frey has been an animator for internationally syndicated television shows, a screenprinter and a gallery director. This is his first book. He lives in Vancouver, British Columbia.

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