I came across The Jannah Jewels Adventure Series by complete accident searching for some information about the gates of heaven. Little did I know that my search would lead me to an exciting, fast-paced chapter book series for middle readers!
The woman in the dark red robes lit several lanterns hanging along the wall. As the lanterns were lit, it showed several long passages. Her big bow and arrow glistened in the glowing light. The girls sat on their knees around Sensei Elle as she began a story they would never forget.
“Long ago, there was an old Master Archer who had an archery battle to see who would become his apprentice after he was gone. A rough battle ensued between two strong students. In the end, a new Master Archer was chosen. But the loser of the battle felt that he should have won. So, now peace on Earth is being disturbed by this ruthless archer… the only way to bring peace back to the world is to find 12 missing artefacts and return them to the Golden Clock before time runs out. It is up to you!”
In the first book of the series, The Treasure of Timbuktu, we’re introduced to four amazing and self-aware young girls as their trusted (yet, mysterious) sensei charges them with the task of saving the world:
- Hidayah, a master of archery and natural leader
- Sara, a strong swimmer and environmentalist
- Iman, a champion equestrian who communicates with animals
- Jaide, a funky artist and expert skateboarder
It’s an historical adventure, “drawing attention to centuries of cultural, scientific and ground-breaking achievements from Islamic heritage.” It’s a story about time travel – taking the reader to Timbuktu in Mali during Islam’s Golden Age. It’s a mystery to find a missing manuscript in time to enjoy a home-made pizza dinner. It’s an enchanting little book filled with magic, heroism, deception and history.
What I really loved about this book is that there’s no separation between the fantastical and religious elements. I always worry when I pick up Islamic literature that it’ll either be overkill on the religious overtones, or be devoid of anything sci-fi/fantasy, due to the underlying threat that the fantastic can make against the sacred. But in The Treasure of Timbuktu, the author Umm Nura, successfully melds the two without making an issue. For example, in order to pilot the time machine or use their special gifts, the girls have to say Bismillah, in the name of Allah – making perfect sense to me!
Another thing I love about this story is the fact that it’s four (five, counting the Sensei) strong women who have to outwit, outmatch and save the world from cold and corrupted men. They are strong female heroines written to express their power based on their actions, words and talents. Even discussion about their awesomely varied hijabs is muted – with barely a mention, except that they flap in the wind.
It’s wonderful to see young Muslim women defined for who they are, their strengths and talents, and not for what’s on their head.
They’re really wonderful role models and it’s a cute little story.
And that’s why I want to share it with everyone!
Two lucky giveaway winners will receive this book for free!
All you have to do is leave a comment on this post with a valid email address (either in the comment itself or in the email field when you fill out the comment form).
To celebrate the days of ‘Eid, I’ll announce the winners (picked at random) on Tuesday, November 8. You have until midnight EST on Monday, November 7 to enter.