It’s Ramadan, Curious George by Hena Khan, illustrated by Mary O’Keefe Young.
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Boston, Massachusetts, 2016.
Tabbed board book, 14 pages.
Curious George is guided through Ramadan by his friend Kareem.
This is the largest board book we’ve gotten yet, almost the size of a regular picture book! The text also is fairly advanced for a picture book. Each two-page spread (there are seven, as you can see by the tabs down the side) has three full paragraphs of text following an abcb rhyme scheme.
My main complaint with the illustrations is that Kareem’s skin color changes throughout the book, even from page to page. At first I thought that this was a publishing defect, but George and The Man in the Yellow Hat don’t have the same problem, so this is probably an issue with the art. There are some pages where Kareem looks entirely African-American, and others where he looks very white. His mother is consistently light-skinned, while his father changes slightly throughout the book.
There is additionally, the whole issue with Curious George, which I won’t get into here beyond this brief mention. While we don’t avoid Curious George, we also don’t generally seek him out – however in this case, the #ownvoices Muslim representation outweighed the questionable CG legacy.
I’m not really sure why this was published as a board book rather than a regular picture book. I’ve seen other holiday Curious George books in a similar tabbed format at Wal-Mart and other retailers. We actually were waiting to get this one at a store, but Eid al-Fitr came and went with no sign of it even though I visited a store by the mosque, so we had to order it online.
Because the book is so oversized for a board book, and the text is dense (three rhyming paragraphs for every two page spread), this doesn’t work as a board book for the littlest readers. Baby wasn’t able to do much with this book, but it did interest the older kids a lot. I would put this at a first to third grade interest level, provided the children aren’t turned off by the board book format.
I don’t think babies and very young children will get much use out of this book, but it is a valuable part of our collection. I really wanted a Muslim board book but didn’t think an explicitly religious text would be appropriate since our family is not Muslim. This succinctly explains everything most important for the kids to know if their friends are celebrating Ramadan, but in a fun way.
This is also recommended by #ownvoices reviewer Notes from an Islamic School Librarian. Recommended.