Written by Hamidah Abdul Rashid
Illustrated by Uzma Ahmad
Published in 2018 by Create Space.
Our Rating: [4/5] ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Recommended Age-7 plus
Bullying is a more than serious problem, here in the states and worldwide.
A recent study in the U.S shows,
“60,000 kids per day skips school for fear of being bullied.
When bystanders intervene, bullying stops within 10 seconds 57% of the time.”
I feel it’s more like a contagious disease now, affecting all it touches. And like any contagious disease that needs to be nipped in the bud by vaccination, bullying needs to be addressed from adolescence. Similar to a fretful parent at a vaccination appointment, is the case of a parent talking to a child about how she may be bullied in the future. As much as we may wish to, we can not shelter our children from the ugly bitterness of this world. Therefore we must equip them with tools that empower them. As of recent reports, Muslim children are likely to face more bullying than other children. One such event, I’ll quote,
“Similarly last month, an 11-year-old girl had her khimar, an Islamic headscarf, abruptly removed by a classmate.”
Sadly this young girl wasn’t the first or the last to be subjected to such unworthy behavior. The author of this book, Hamidah Abdul Rashid was also a victim in a similar incident, and her response was to tell the world about it through her own story. I admire her strength, courage and vision to help others and spread awareness in this emotionally enlightening book.
As a bookblogger, I strongly believe in the power of story-telling and this book is a powerful read for the following reasons,
- If your child is a hijabi or plans to take her hijab, this book may teach her how to respond if bullied.
- We have books about Muslim children being bullied but I think it’s safe to say that this may be one of the first books that is written by a Muslim Child about bullying for CHILDREN. Think of the impact that’ll have on a. Hold when you tell them someone about their age authored the book!
- This book may help open the lines of communication between a parent and child being bullied. (Studies reflect children that are reluctant to share that they are being bullied at home).
- This book shows the importance of standing up for others being bullied. We see the protagonist taking a stand for a victimized child. TAKE A STAND!
When I read the book to my eight year old daughter and niece, I felt my throat constricting and eyes welling up as we read through the pages & flipped through the illustrations. I could see my little audience all ears, experiencing much emotion as we went through Bilqis’s story. (Bilqis’s story is based off Hamidah Abdul Rashid the author’s own experience).
Bilqis is excited about Theatre Arts Summer camp and is almost late on her first day. She hopes to find friends from school and meets her friend Kyla upon arrival. Their teacher is Ms Wilcox, someone who gives Bilqis a grandma feel and pronounces her name incorrectly every time. (A common problem for children with foreign names). I thoroughly enjoyed how the author gave this part of the story a funny feel, simultaneously correcting the teacher politely every time. At this point I really wished that the author could have addressed the issue of mispronounced names in a separate book for children. Present times call for such content and Muslim representations. That being said my daughter giggled at Bilqis being called Bella Kris and could so relate to the story, because of her own name. I hope it gave her the strength to politely correct anyone who mispronounces her name.
After attendance Bilqis talks about staying away from Jason who in her words, is not a ‘nice kid’. Bilqis’s worries about the ‘not so nice kid’ subside with the announcement of the upcoming field trip. The class is to go to the Performing Arts center to see professionals act. After two weeks Ms Wilcox announces that the class will be taking place in a talent show with other Theatre Art camps in the city and Bilqis gets the lead role!
One day in the auditorium Kyla ignores Jason calling her, ‘ugly.’ To this Jason takes a step further and physically attacks her, by hitting her in the eye. That is when Bilqis stands up for her friend telling Jason to stop or she’ll go to the teacher. Thereafter Jason apologizes but sounds completely unapologetic.
Later Jason tries to pick a physical fight with Bilqis, to which Bilqis chooses to walk way. Jason runs after her and pulls off her hijab, calls Bilqis, ‘ugly’ and her head covering a ‘pillow case.’ He also tells Bilqis to go away because no one likes Muslims. The teacher comforts a humiliated Bilqis and reports Jason to the anti-bullying specialists right away.
In the book Bilqis explains what the hijab is and why it’s worn to others at camp. Jason is sent home immediately and Ms Wilcox tells Bilqis’s mom the events of the day at pick-up time. Bilqis’s mom wants to schedule a meeting at the camp (to talk abut the episode) but Bilqis tells her mother to leave it because A truly remorseful Jason had apologized.
The teacher had Bilqis talk to the children about the hijab in wake of the event. My absolute favorite part is when Bilqis tells Jason that her hijab is her crown & never to touch it! If you really think about it, the hijab, just like the crown is what gives every Muslimah her uniqueness and sets her apart from all! Loved the analogy!
“I was also given the chance to talk about why I wear the hijab and why its wrong for anyone to snatch it off my head. I told Jordan that it was my crown and he better not ever touch it again.
I also told him that whenever he sees anyone else with a hijab on he should be respectful and not touch it.”
The ending is indeed a happy one, where Bilqis is excited about the show and gives her own message at the end.”
“Hi everyone! My name is Bilqis and I have a very important message! Bullying is wrong and no one deserves to be bullied! Bullying someone just because they are different is not cool! If you see another kid getting bullied, please speak up and tell a grown up. If you are being bullied, then tell your parents or a grown up! Let’s knock out bullying together!”
Support this young author and her message by sharing the book and review. I’d like to thank the author for providing me a free copy in exchange for an honest review.
Check out my insta-stories for a sneak-peak of the book!
Let’s knock out bullying together,