THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED
I punch in the security code to our home and step inside to the cool interior. I hear the water running and figure Mom must be taking a bath. That suits me just fine. I kick off my trainers with relief and put them inside the closet. I’m about to leave the entrance hall when I do a double take and stare at the shoe rack that houses Mom’s footwear collection. Not surprisingly, there isn’t a pair of tap dancing shoes in sight. Forget that, Mom doesn’t even own a pair of high heels! I pick up a set of modest leather flats and smack their rubber soles together. No rhythmic sound. Their silence hangs like a heavy, dark cloud over my mind.
Farrah Khan sometimes feels like the odd one out at her exclusive private school. She’s a reserved Muslim girl trying to navigate relationships with her popularity-obsessed classmates. What keeps her afloat is a strong bond with the person she least expected — her mother.
This past week, I had the pleasure of reading The Hijab Boutique. It’s a small, illustrated chapter book aimed at middle readers, about the trials of a young Muslim girl who learns about hijab and her mother’s personal drive to succeed as a believing Muslim and a single mother. The author, Michelle Khan is an Indo-Canadian writer who has received awards and recognition for her work in journalism and television. This is her first chapter book for children.
For an International Woman’s Day class project, the students are asked to bring in items that represent their mothers. Faced with intense scrutiny by the vapid, fashionable and uber-popular, “cool as ice” girls, Farrah feels that there is no way her religious and modest mother can possibly compare to her classmates’ famous actress, dancing and jewelry crafting mothers. The class project takes her on a journey exploring her relationship with her mother after the death of her father and helps her find pride in who she is as a Muslim through a secret hijab business venture.
This chapter book is incredibly fast paced — at times reminding me of the narrative from the children’s program That’s So Raven, where the action, dialogue and narration happen all at once. Islamic religious beliefs are woven throughout, and once or twice dropped without context, which gave me pause — but that’s just me.
Themes of self and religious identity are also explored, though sometimes at the expense of other characters who hold true to the “mean girls” type of stereotypes: tall, blond and skinny versus the Muslim. But I also think that this illustrates precisely what Farrah needs to get over. Part of her understanding of the world around her (including being envious of her friends) comes from not being sure of her own identity as a Muslim. By the end of the book, she gives a serious-punch-the-air speech that I am dying to quote from — but won’t because I don’t want to spoil the ending. Let’s just say: hijab + feminism = awesome.
This is an excellent book to teach non-Muslim readers about hijab and some basic Islamic principles. This is an even better book for Muslim readers who want to defend the varieties of hijab and be proud of being Muslim but who don’t always have the right tools at their disposal.
I really enjoyed it, and that’s why I want to share it with you!
Two lucky giveaway winners will receive this book for free!
One winner with a mailing address in Canada or the United States will receive this book direct from the publisher — and one winner from anywhere outside of Canada or the United States will receive this book direct from me.
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).
UPDATE: if you are an international entrant, please indicate by including INTL (or your country/city) in your comment. THANKS!
I’ll announce the winners (picked at random) by Wednesday, August 31, just in time for ‘Eid! You have until midnight GMT on Tuesday, August 30 to enter. Good Luck!