[Monday Reading] Three Multicultural Picturebooks that Celebrate The Moon, Prayers, and Peace

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Myra here.

It’s Monday, What are You Reading is a meme hosted by Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers (brainchild of Sheila at BookJourney). Since two of our friends, Linda from Teacher Dance and Tara from A Teaching Life have been joining this meme for quite awhile now, we thought of joining this warm and inviting community.

Last Week’s Review and Miscellany Posts

We’re also inviting everyone to join our Award Winning Books Reading Challenge for 2015 (#AWBRead2015)! 

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Here is the sign up page and the July-August linky if you already have reviews up. One randomly-selected participant would receive a copy of The Dark Wild by Piers Torday courtesy of Pansing Books.

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Click here to view my announcement post to learn more details.

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There are so many picturebooks that I want to share for our diversified reading theme that my challenge really was how to put the titles that go together. These multicultural picturebooks portray the power of peace and prayer, and two of them share this message through the light of the beautiful moon.

IMG_2906Ramadan Moon

Written by: Na’ima B Robert Illustrated by: Shirin Adl
Published by: Frances Lincoln Children’s Books, 2009
Borrowed from the Jurong West Public Library. Book photos taken by me.

I learned about Na’ima B Robert through her picturebook Going To MeccaI enjoyed it so much that I searched for her other titles that are available in our library. In Ramadan Moon, Na’ima once again captivates the reader as she portrayed the month of fasting among the Muslim community, linking it to the waxing and waning of the silver moon in such a lyrical manner.

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Doesn’t begin all at once.

It begins with a whisper

And a prayer

And a wish.

She speaks of a wondrous excitement that spreads along every Muslim’s heart regardless of where they are in the world, as they look forward to this period in time when the faithful reflect upon their deeds. This season of reflection is a reminder to be constantly grateful about the little things and to “try hard not to get angry.”

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Na’ima also wrote about a “Night of Power” where “wishes upon wishes/ and prayer upon prayer” are sent out into the night skies. This book is brimming with joyful celebration with the sight of the new crescent moon that announces the Eid day, as families come together, henna patterns are painted onto children’s hands, and food is shared with loved ones.

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The collage artworks, as per usual, are stunning. The textures are so alive that I find my hands running through the pages at various points, deceived by its lifelike quality. This is a book that will not fail to warm the heart as it seems to invite the reader, whoever you may be, to partake in this bounty and this celebration of faith, hope, and gratitude.

Beautiful Moon: A Child’s PrayerIMG_2868

Written by: Tonya Bolden Illustrated by: Eric Velasquez
Published byAbrams Books for Young Readers
Borrowed from the Jurong West Public Library. Book photos taken by me.

I know that a lot of picturebook-savvy librarians and readers might think: oh no! not another moon book! I know I had the same sentiment the first time I laid my eyes on the book cover. I am glad that I still picked it up, as I was awed once again by Eric Velasquez’s art, and was pleasantly surprised by the honest beauty in the writing.

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The story begins simply enough with a young boy who roused himself out of bed upon realizing that he has forgotten to say his prayers. It was the glimmer of the “amber orb” that connected this child’s prayers to various people who are out in the streets gazing at the same harvest moon – from the homeless woman trying to keep herself warm:

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to the man on a train who is immune to the moon’s beauty as he thinks about his daughter who is a soldier in a faraway country:

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Those two images alone were enough to make me fall in love with this book – as it touches oh-so-subtly on homelessness, female soldiers, and the prayers for wars to end. There is also a quiet prayer uttered for people who are suffering either through hunger or illness and a special prayer to family members this young boy knows and loves.

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Somehow this book manages to uplift while at the same time succeeds in not minimizing people’s sufferings or pain – a very difficult tightrope walk for both writer and illustrator who may lean towards moralizing or becoming heavy-handed. This one, however, is all light and faith. There is beauty here that brings tears to one’s eyes, regardless of how jaded you may regard yourself to be.

IMG_2875Peace Is An Offering

Written by: Annette LeBox Illustrated by: Stephanie Graegin
Published by: Dial Books for Young Readers, 2015
Borrowed from the Jurong West Public Library. Book photos taken by me.

For young children who, according to Piaget, is still in the concrete operational stage in their cognitive development, thinking about an abstract concept such as peace may be extremely difficult. This book has made life simpler to a lot of parents and teachers who may wish to introduce such an all-encompassing abstraction to even kids as young as two (or even younger if you are so inclined!).

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LeBox equates peace with an offered muffin, an umbrella in the rain, a trip to the beach, kind words you say to a sibling, a kiss on the cheek. There is also an invitation to be grateful for everyday little things such as “light through a leaf, a dragonfly’s wings.”

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Most importantly, it also shows what is on the other side of peace, a dab of darkness amidst the light, and how one is able to find comfort during those times:

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because:

“Peace is a joining, not a pulling apart.

It’s the courage to bear a wounded heart.”

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This is a book to hold close to your heart. Find it. Read it aloud. Spread the word. Peace.

Currently Reading…

I am beginning to realize that the busier I am with my semester, the more that I read – it truly is my link to sanity. Despite the fact that I am teaching two higher degree courses, coordinating an inservice course across four tutorial groups (and teaching one of the tutorial groups of special school teachers and allied educators as well), and facilitating a service learning course – on top of my clinical supervision – 4 supervisees in all, and being an academic mentor to three teaching scholars – I read. It is my link to sanity. It grounds me. Centers me.

I was able to finish reading four books over the past week: Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson, The Baby-Sitters Club: Kristy’s Great Idea adapted by Raina Telgemeier, Habibi by Naomi Shihab Nye, and Margarita Engle’s wonderful memoir Enchanted Air.

This week, I am being a dutiful member of my various book clubs and I hope to read the following books:

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Smaller and Smaller Circles by F. H. Batacan – September Book of the Month for Saturday Night Out for Book Geeks.

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Ministry of Moral Panic: Stories by Amanda Lee Koe for my GatheringReaders at NIE  (my institution) with fellow professors/academics – September Book of the Month. This book won the Singapore Literature Prize for Fiction in 2014.

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The Great Greene Heist by Varian Johnson for my GatheringReaders book club at the Jurong West Public Library – September Book of the Month. I have two copies so that my daughter and I get one each – although her leisure reading has been suffering over the past months because of the unbelievable demands of her school work. It is how it is.

I would most likely end up reading other books too. We shall see. Having three different book clubs does take its toll every once in awhile. Hehe.

6 Comments on [Monday Reading] Three Multicultural Picturebooks that Celebrate The Moon, Prayers, and Peace

  1. Thrilled, was able to reserve some of these, thanks for sharing! 🙂 (Beautiful Moon and Peace is an Offering…)

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You’ve got some awesome books on your list! I just read When Marian Sang by Pam Munoz Ryan last night! Isn’t it wonderful?!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. All three picture books look beautiful. I’m still fascinated by the moon–and the first two share the moon in such different ways. I finally read The Great Green Heist this summer. It was such fun.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I loved Peace Is An Offering, Myra, the words and the gorgeous pictures. Thanks for the other two, new to me and they look beautiful as well. Hope you enjoy the Great Greene Heist. I thought it was lots of fun, kept me going to see what was next! Happy Reading!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Peace is an Offering is beautiful like All the World. If I ever do Story Time at work, it will focus on kindness and so that book would be perfect.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. These look like awesome books! 😀

    Like

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