I’m not going to lie: I don’t know a hell of a lot about Muslim culture. I never studied it in history classes, never took religion classes, and there’s little to none Muslim representation in anything I’ve ever seen on television or movies (which is probably the biggest factor of my ignorance). When I was asked a question about the holidays Muslim’s celebrate by the two little boys I look after, I had no idea how to answer. So I once again packed up the little rugrats and headed to my local library where I found the very helpful book Night of the Moon: A Muslim Holiday Story. Lucky or what?
The premise of Night of the Moon is a simple one. It follows Yasmeen, a seven-year-old Pakistani-American girl, as she and her family celebrates the Muslim holidays of Ramadan, The Night of the Moon, and Eid. It’s a story that offers a window into modern Muslim culture and into the ancient roots from within its traditions have grown.
The author of Night of the Moon is Hena Khan, a Pakistani-American Muslim who was born and raised in America but celebrated her native Pakistan’s culture and religion. She’s written many children’s books about the Muslim faith but she’s also covered topics from spies to space travel as well. The illustrator that she worked with on Night of the Moon was Julie Paschkis, an award winning illustrator with a long list of art schools under her belt and a BFA to top it all off.
The art style of Night of the Moon is perfect for the story it’s telling. It looks to be a thick acrylic style that’s intricate but not perfect. The paintbrush (or whatever tool was used to create the artwork) was held lightly and allowed to swoop and glide where it wanted. The main colour of the piece is blue and there is such a rich variety of blue that it creates an unbelievable lushness. It’s the perfect colour to focus on for a book about a Muslim holiday centred around the moon and it really does evoke just such a feeling of looking at traditional Islamic art.
The themes of this children’s book are very clearly laid out: it’s a book to teach children about Muslim holidays. Unlike other kid’s books Night of the Moon is not centred around teaching kids a moral lesson through clever use of talking animals. It takes a culturally authentic account of Ramadan, delivers it in a sensitive way to Muslim tradition, and holds onto its steadfast integrity. All thirty two pages of the piece are detailed and reverent of its Middle Eastern background and it’s done in a way to keep kid’s attention so that they learn about something that happens in the real world!
My final thoughts on Night of the Moon are that it’s an excellent book to read if you’re looking to help your children understand a different culture or if you yourself know nothing about Ramadan and want to dip your toes! The artwork is lush and gorgeous, the story helpful and entertaining and there’s even a glossary at the end of the book that goes over the Arabic words that are mentioned in the piece and how they relate to the Islamic faith. Overall, Night of the Moon is a good representation of Muslim holidays that’s beautiful, fact-filled, and respectful to the culture.