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Moon Watchers
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About the Author

Reza Jalali is a writer, educator, and a Muslim Scholar, who has taught courses at the University of Southern Maine and Bangor Theological Seminary. Jalali's books include New Mainers ((c)2009, Tilbury), Moon Watchers ((c)2010, Tilbury), Homesick Mosque and Other Stories, and The Poets and the Assassin. His children's book, Moon Watchers, has received the Stepping Stone Multicultural Award. His five-act play, The Poets and the Assassin, which is about women in Iran and Islam, has been staged at Bates College, University of Southern Maine, Bowdoin College, University of New England, and the Space Gallery, among others. In May 2015, Jalali was featured in the National Public Radio's popular program, The Moth Radio. ANNE SIBLEY O'BRIEN has illustrated 31 books, including Talking Walls, and is the author and illustrator of the picture book I'm New Here and the graphic novel The Legend of Hong Kil Dong. Annie's passion for multiracial, multicultural, and global subjects grew out of her experience of being raised bilingual and bicultural in South Korea as the daughter of medical missionaries. She writes the column "The Illustrator's Perspective" for the Bulletin of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators and a blog, "Coloring Between the Lines." The mother of two grown children, she lives with her husband on an island in Maine.

Reviews

Gr 1-4-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(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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. Grades 2-4. --Hazel Rochman--Hazel Rochman
Shirin lives in a suburban U.S. setting where she and her father can go outside and spot the new moon as Ramadan begins. The nine-year-old wants to fast this year after all, her 12-year-old brother is doing it but her parents tell her that she is too young. Her grandmother comforts her with a story about a boy who fasts part-time, and Shirin quickly recognizes the boy as her father. She, too, begins in the same way, but it is her new willingness to help others that leads to the changes in her relationship with her sibling that create the small but important miracle. Jalali is from Iran, but his story is about universal Muslim practices, with a few specific details indicated in O Brien s intense watercolors. The grandmother regularly wears a headscarf, while the mother does not. Both adult women wear chadors during prayer, and the grown-ups also use Shi ite heart-shaped prayer stones at the tops of their prayer mats. This quiet story adds to the small collection of books about Muslim families that can counteract the often harmful messages seen in the media. (Picture book. 6-9)
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
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

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