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Mommy’s Khimar by Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow (A Book Review)

Disclaimer: We received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.  As always, all opinions expressed are my own.

Mommy’s Khimar
by Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow, illustrated by Ebony Glenn

Published by: Salaam Reads / Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Age Range: 4 – 8 years old
Grade Level: Preschool – 3
Format: Hardcover

Synopsis
A young Muslim girl spends a busy day wrapped up in her mother’s colorful headscarf in this sweet and fanciful picture book.

A khimar is a flowing scarf that my mommy wears.
Before she walks out the door each day, she wraps one around her head.

A young girl plays dress up with her mother’s headscarves, feeling her mother’s love with every one she tries on. Charming and vibrant illustrations showcase the beauty of the diverse and welcoming community in this portrait of a young Muslim American girl’s life.

Reflection

When the publisher Salaam Reads was founded back in 2016, I was so excited!  Salaam Reads is an imprint that aims to introduce readers of all faiths and backgrounds to a wide variety of Muslim children and families and offer Muslim kids an opportunity to see themselves reflected positively in published works. The imprint, which takes its name from the Arabic word for “peace,” plans to publish books for young readers of all ages, including picture books, chapter books, middle grade, and young adult.  Isn’t that great news?

Today there are very few good children’s books that have Muslim or Islamic themes.  There are even fewer books that focus on the African-American Muslim experience like Mommy’s Khimar.  I love this adorable story about a little Muslim American girl who likes to play dress up with her mother’s khimar (hijab).  It’s a lively and upbeat story with engaging words and vibrant illustrations that oozes with love!

Playing dress-up has never been so much fun!  Especially when you have a closet full of beautifully designed headscarves to choose from.

Some have tassles.  Some have beads.  Some have sparkly things all over.

The little girl’s excitement at dressing up in mother’s khimar is infectious.  She uses her creative imagination to become a queen with a golden train, the sun, a mama bird and a superhero in a cape.

When I wear Mommy’s khimar, I am a mama bird.  I spread my golden wings and shield my baby brother as he sleeps in his nest.

At the end of the day, it’s time to take off the khimar and go to sleep, but not without one last stroke of mommy’s khimar.  The little girl takes her mother’s scents of coconut oil, cocoa butter and cinnamon with her as she drifts off to sleep.  It’s as if her mother is right there lying next to her.  Sometimes, a girl needs to know that her mother’s love will still be there, even when it’s time to go to bed.  Fortunately, smelling the khimar one last time lets the little girl know that Mama’s love won’t ever go away. This story is perfect for reminding children that a mother’s love will always endure.

I really enjoyed reading this story with my kids.  The pages dance with pastel colored illustrations that really make the story come alive.  Ebony Glenn’s illustrations doing a fantastic job showcasing the beauty of a timeless khimar.  My favorite thing about this book is the mother daughter bond that is displayed throughout.  It’s clear that the girl admires her mother and wants to follow in her mother’s footsteps.  I love the way the little girl expresses her affection for her mom and how much love is shown to the girl from her community: her dad, grandmother and other women at the mosque.

Overall, I think Mommy’s Khimar beautifully captures the childhood of playing dress up and make believe while contextualizing it against the backdrop of the African American Muslim experience. Mommy’s Khimar can serve not only as a window for other cultures, but as a mirror for Muslim-American children.  It may make many little girls want to snuggle up and read this book with their mother and spark meaningful conversations as their mother shares stories about each one of her beloved khimars.

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