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Ibtihaj Muhammad (Author) Ibtihaj Muhammad is a fencer and the first Muslim American woman in hijab to compete and to win a medal for the United States in the Olympic Games. An activist, speaker and entrepreneur, Ibtihaj has written a memoir, Proud, and inspired the first hijabi Barbie in her likeness. S. K. Ali (Author) S. K. Ali is the award-winning author of Saints and Misfits and Love from A to Z and the coeditor of an upcoming Eid anthology. She and her sister visited hijab shops every year before the first day of school to choose their proudest colours. Hatem Aly (Illustrator) Hatem Aly is the illustrator of many books, including the Newbery Honor Book The Inquisitor's Tale. Hatem was born in Egypt, and currently lives in Canada with his wife, son and their many pets.
This collaboration, between the first American Olympic medallist to compete wearing a hijab and an award-winning Muslim YA author, is a beautiful story of sisterly love as well as a thoughtful depiction of the significance of wearing the hijab. Expressed in terms of family pride and self determination rather than in terms of faith, makes the message particularly accessible to all young readers regardless of their background. Faizah is excited for her first day of school, with her light up shoes and new backpack, but even more excited for her older sister, Asiya with her brand-new blue hijab. As Faizah walks to the school she admires her sister who looks like ‘a princess’ in her blue head scarf. Their mother has prepared the girls with wise words, which they remember as they encounter different reactions, and these are shown on dreamy spreads of Faiza’s thoughts and their mother’s words. When the kids in the school bully Asiya, she remembers her mother’s advice to not carry hurtful words as “they are not yours to keep. They belong only to those who said them” The bullies are cleverly depicted as faceless, raceless, anonymous shadows thus avoiding apportioning blame to any one sector. The vivid colour and expressive illustration are just as powerful as words in conveying the passionate message of how to be proud of one’s culture, individuality, and religion and how to stay strong protected by the armour of family love. This is an excellent book about identity and self-confidence for young readers who can see themselves in Asiya or know someone like her and essential for Empathy collections.