Sunday, August 5, 2018

Meet Yasmin, by Saadia Faruqi -- outstanding new early reader (ages 6-9)

Beginning readers seek out funny stories they can relate to. Even with unlikely situations and over-the-top humor (Fly Guy, I'm looking at you), kids want to be able to imagine that they are the main character in the story. That's precisely why representation matters so much.

I'm thrilled to introduce you to Yasmin, the Pakistani-American main character in Saadia Faruqi's debut series Meet Yasmin! Young readers are going to relate to many of the situations that Yasmin finds herself in--getting lost, wanting to win the art contest, making a mess at home. Many readers are also going to appreciate the cultural details that Saadia seamlessly weaves into her story.
Meet Yasmin!
by Saadia Faruqi, illustrated by Hatem Aly
Capstone, 2018
Google Books preview / Amazon / your library
ages 6-9
*best new book*
Yasmin is a vivacious second-grader who's always looking for ways to solve problems she gets into. Her multigenerational Pakistani-American family is supportive, giving her the space to figure things out and also offering some help along the way.
Yasmin's family: Mama, Baba, Nani and Nana (via CapstoneKids)

Meet Yasmin! is a short chapter book with four separate stories within it--these help keep the pacing moving quickly for young readers new to chapter books. Each story is divided into three short chapters. You can also purchase the stories individually, as short beginning readers. Katie Woo and Sofia Martinez, two of our favorite series, are also available in this way--providing flexible formats for new readers.
  • Yasmin the Explorer – Yasmin wants to be a brave explorer after she draws a map of her neighborhood, but gets scared when she gets lost at the farmer's market.
  • Yasmin the Painter – Worried about an art contest at school, Yasmin doesn't have any idea what to paint. Luckily, inspiration comes from the mess she makes.
  • Yasmin the Builder – When her class starts building a city, Yasmin doesn't know what she'll build. In a delightful twist, she decides to make bridges and paths that connect everyone else's buildings together.
  • Yasmin the Fashionista – Yasmin is so excited to play dress up with her mother's clothes, but she and Nani accidently rip Mama's satin kameez and must figure out how to fix it.
Yasmin is a happy child with a loving family. Students from many backgrounds will relate to her multigenerational family. Muslim students will especially notice the cultural details. The review at MuslimReads summed it up:
The fact that her mom grabs her purse and her hijab when she’s getting ready to leave the house and that her dad calls her jaan are just normal parts of Yasmin’s life and a normal part of the fabric of American life.
"Don't forget your map!" Baba said. "Every explorer needs a map."
Notice in these illustrations that Mama is not wearing her hijab at home, but puts it on as they're leaving the house for the farmer's market. This small detail is important to weave into the story. Hatem Aly does a wonderful job of keeping the illustrations fun and lively, and also keeping them culturally specific.

Saadia Faruqi decided to write children's books, especially for beginning readers, because her own children did not have books they could relate to. Her heartfelt post in NerdyBookClub explains how her children struggled as first generation Muslim Americans, and how "books – the one thing that should have helped them deal with all this – didn’t have any answers. There were no beloved Muslim characters with the same problems they had."

Read more about Saadia's vision and journey:
Meet Yasmin! is well crafted for beginning readers, with a crisp focus on problem and resolution, a small cast of characters for new readers to learn, and an engaging main character. Hand this to readers who like relatable, funny stories with short chapters.

Many thanks to Saadia Faruqi and Capstone for sharing the review copy with me. If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion goes to Great Kid Books. Thank you for your support.

©2018 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books

No comments:

Post a Comment