Books, Uncategorized

Review: Once Upon an Eid by S. K. Ali and Aisha Saeed

Thank you to NetGalley and Amulet Books for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!

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Once Upon an Eid is a collection of short stories that showcases the most brilliant Muslim voices writing today, all about the most joyful holiday of the year: Eid!

Eid: The short, single-syllable word conjures up a variety of feelings and memories for Muslims. Maybe it’s waking up to the sound of frying samosas or the comfort of bean pie, maybe it’s the pleasure of putting on a new outfit for Eid prayers, or maybe it’s the gift giving and holiday parties to come that day. Whatever it may be, for those who cherish this day of celebration, the emotional responses may be summed up in another short and sweet word: joy. The anthology will also include a poem, graphic-novel chapter, and spot illustrations.

The full list of Once Upon an Eid contributors include: G. Willow Wilson (Alif the Unseen, Ms. Marvel), Hena Khan (Amina’s Voice, Under My Hijab), N. H. Senzai (Shooting Kabul, Escape from Aleppo), Hanna Alkaf (The Weight of Our Sky), Rukhsana Khan (Big Red Lollipop), Randa Abdel-Fattah (Does My Head Look Big in This?), Ashley Franklin (Not Quite Snow White), Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow (Mommy’s Khimar), Candice Montgomery (Home and Away, By Any Means Necessary), Huda Al-Marashi (First Comes Marriage), Ayesha Mattu, Asmaa Hussein, and Sara Alfageeh.

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I wanted to start this with a little preface: I’m not Muslim, so this review comes from the view of someone completely outside of Islam, its traditions and the experience of Eid.

That being said, this book was the most beautiful introduction into a wonderful and important holiday in the Muslim calendar. The editor’s notes were incredibly helpful for anyone who is unfamiliar with Eid.

This is a children’s book, so the stories are all fairly simple, making them easy to follow and understand. I can definitely see this book as a beautiful bedtime story for any child! Each story is about a different family celebrating Eid in their own way. There is a huge amount of diversity, with families ranging from Australia, New York and even a refugee camp on a Greek island. The stories have strong messages that are easy to understand.

This book is a wonderful insight into a beautiful holiday that people may not know much about. It is filled with stories brimming with overarching messages of kindness, family, celebration, generosity, thoughtfulness, patience and understanding. Each time I finished a story, I was left smiling at the general atmosphere of love and togetherness. The experiences of each family in the stories vary massively, but they are all connected through Eid and the central topics of family, food and friends.

Each author has an individual voice, and they all felt like they belong. None seemed clunky or out of place like in some collections. I loved that they’re all Own Voices authors, which made it feel authentic and like a snapshot of real people’s lives.

Overall, I gave this book 5 stars as its simplicity was perfectly aimed at small children and it made me want to look up books from all of the contributing authors. Whilst this book is perfect for children, I also think it’s a great feel-good collection for adults who want a short read!

This book is released on 5th May!

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