Review of Abdul’s Story

Abdul’s Story Abdul’s Story
by Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow; illus. by Tiffany Rose
Primary    Salaam/Simon    40 pp.    g
3/22    978-1-5344-6298-4    $17.99
e-book ed.  978-1-5344-6299-1    $10.99

Gregarious Abdul loves to tell stories to his classmates—as long as he does not have to write them down. Letters are confusing, and figuring out how to spell words is frustrating. Not to mention that the books he reads at school do not feature people who look like him or the people in his neighborhood: “Some stories are for books, Abdul decided, but not his.” Then an author named Mr. Muhammad comes to visit his class. By encouraging the boy to focus on his ideas instead of on mechanics, Mr. ­Muhammad helps Abdul to unleash the writer inside of him. Abdul, who is Black and Muslim, is a relatable character not typically represented in similar narratives, and Mr. Muhammad, who is also Black, Muslim, and neurodivergent, offers encouragement as the caring adult who has learned to manage his own writing challenges. This is a story within a story, not just about the tales Abdul wants to write but also about his journey as a learner; exploring the topic of learning disabilities can be challenging, especially the social-emotional fallout for children who are struggling, but Thompkins-Bigelow accomplishes the task. Rose’s lively and colorful illustrations are eye-pleasing and showcase diversity. This is an engaging story that not only offers empowerment but also models understanding and acceptance of learning differences.

From the March/April 2022 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Monique Harris

Monique Harris is a public educator, reading specialist and independent educational consultant. She holds a Master of Science degree in Education from Simmons University, and is enrolled in a PhD program at Florida State University.

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