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[DiverseKidLit] More Than Just A Scarf in “Mommy’s Khimar”

"Mommy's Khimar" by Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow and Illustrations by Ebony Glenn.

Myra here.

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Over the past several weeks, I have been sharing diverse mother-and-daughter titles – a bond that is built on stories in Imani’s Moon (see my review here), one that is built on love and sacrifice in Ten Cents A Pound (see my review here), and another one that transcends linguistic boundaries in Say It! and Hands & Hearts (see my review here).

This one is a great title to add to this growing mother and daughter bonds – aside from the fact that it celebrates the wearing of a khimar – a tradition that has been misunderstood or misperceived for the longest time. I love how it redefines this act and juxtaposes it as part of the growing mother-daughter bond as captured in this glorious picturebook.

Mommy’s Khimar

Written by Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow Illustrated by Ebony Glenn
Published by Salaam Reads / Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers (2018)
ISBN: 1534400591 (ISBN13: 9781534400597) Book was borrowed from the Jurong West Public Library. Book photos taken by me.

Buy Mommy’s Khimar on Amazon | Book Depository

In a world that is filled with well-intentioned but blessedly-ignorant individuals, it is easy to form judgments on the basis of what we see, what we hear from anecdotal chats with acquaintances, or what we see on television. Diverse books like these serve to further the conversation by providing another perspective, shining a light to misinformation brought about by fear of the unknown and the unfamiliar.

I love how the little girl in this story serves as a little helper to her Momma in the beginning of the story – and her wide-eyed awe as she runs her hands through the flowing scarves of multi-coloured fabric in her mother’s closet. For this little girl, the khimar signifies infinite possibilities, open affection, the occasional mischief, and the memory of mother’s hands on the girl’s hair.

When I wear Mommy’s khimar, Mommy is with me even when she’s away. I close my eyes and if I breathe in deeply – really deeply – I smell the coconut oil in Mommy’s hair and the cocoa butter on her skin.

I also especially liked the portrayal of the grandmother here – who is described to have a different religion. While certain parts may be deemed as heavy-handed, I feel that it still has a ring of authenticity to it, since there are indeed children who belong to families who adhere to different religious beliefs.

There is subtlety in this story, a resounding joy that invites the reader in. The lilting, rhythmic quality of the language paired with the overflowing sunshine in the pages, is enough to make this book a favourite among most young readers. I know that it is one of my favourite reads this year.

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#WomenReadWomen2019: Charlotte Zolotow, Donna Jo Napoli, and Amy Bates are from the United States of America, Charlotte Voake is from the United Kingdom.

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Myra is a Teacher Educator and a registered clinical psychologist based in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates. Prior to moving to the Middle East, she lived for eleven years in Singapore serving as a teacher educator. She has edited five books on rediscovering children’s literature in Asia (with a focus on the Philippines, Malaysia, India, China, Japan) as part of the proceedings for the Asian Festival of Children’s Content where she served as the Chair of the Programme Committee for the Asian Children’s Writers and Illustrators Conference from 2011 until 2019. While she is an academic by day, she is a closet poet and a book hunter at heart. When she is not reading or writing about books or planning her next reads, she is hoping desperately to smash that shuttlecock to smithereens because Badminton Is Life (still looking for badminton courts here at UAE - suggestions are most welcome).

1 comment on “[DiverseKidLit] More Than Just A Scarf in “Mommy’s Khimar”

  1. Great post. Loved the book excerpts as well. This is a post on my blog listing children’s picture books from my country: https://wadadlipen.wordpress.com/2014/03/30/antigua-and-barbuda-childrens-fiction-writers

    Liked by 1 person

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