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Review of Yo Soy Muslim: A Father’s Letter to His Daughter

Yo Soy Muslim: A Father’s Letter to His Daughter
by Mark Gonzales; illus. by Mehrdokht Amini
Primary    Salaam/Simon    32 pp.
8/17    978-1-4814-8936-2    $17.99
e-book ed.  978-1-4814-8937-9    $10.99

Gonzales pens an honest, heartfelt text about the beauty of cultural identity, a loving, compassionate exhortation to his daughter to embrace all that she is. Although written in simple, lyrical verse, the text conveys a weighty message. In the beginning, Gonzales writes of finding happiness through laughter, smiles, and dreams. He goes on to tell his daughter that it is natural to question who we are (“There are questions we all ask / when we are learning what it means to be human”); that she, too, will be questioned by others one day (“What are you? / And / where are you from?”); and that not everyone will like who she is (“And there will come a day / when some people in the world / will not smile at you”). Then he suggests the responses she may give when that questioning begins. He advises her to let people know she identifies herself by her faith, ethnicity, and language: “Yo soy Muslim. / I am from Allah, angels, and a place as old as time. / I speak Spanish, Arabic, and dreams.” He advises her to listen to God and pray, as well as reminding her — and us all — that the Islamic faith spans many nationalities and cultures. Amini partners the text’s lightness and darkness with rich, color-saturated illustrations that incorporate vibrant patterns and motifs.

From the September/October 2017 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

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About Aishah Abdul Musawwir

Aishah Abdul-Musawwir is an elementary school librarian for Cambridge Public Schools. She holds a masters of education degree with a focus on school library media services from Cambridge College.

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