I’ve been eagerly awaiting the publication of this picture book since I first learned about it in a blog post last year. It’s finally in print, and I’m happy to share it here.
Title: The Proudest Blue: A Story of Hijab and Family
Written By: Ibtihaj Muhammad with S.K. Ali
Illustrated By: Hatem Aly
Publisher/Date: Little, Brown and Company/September 2019
Suitable for Ages: 4-8
Themes/Topics: hijab, faith, Islam, sisters, bullying, rite of passage
Mama holds out the pink. Mama loves pink. But Asiya shakes her head. I know why.
Behind the counter is the brightest blue. The color of the ocean, if you squint your eyes and pretend there’s no line between the water and the sky.
Brief Synopsis: When her older sister wears hijab for the first day of school, young Faizah is happy and proud, until some schoolmates use unkind words, and she must find a way to keep strong and true to her faith and family.
Links to Resources:
- Learn about hijab, the focus of this story, and the religious reasons for it;
- What did you wear for the first day of school? Why did you choose that outfit? Draw a picture of yourself, a sibling, or a friend on the first day of school.
Why I Like this Book:
The Proudest Blue is a wonderful story of sisterly love, pride in one’s faith and religious practices, and the strength to be yourself. As Muhammad shares in an Author’s Note, she wrote this story so that young Muslim girls would see themselves in a picture book and take pride in their own choice of hijab, and to celebrate differences. I think she does this and more.
In Asiya, readers meet a young teen who celebrates her religious beliefs, her heritage, and her connection to her mother and older female relatives. She doesn’t follow blindly, however. Mama chooses pink, but Asiya desires the blue scarf. She wears it proudly.
Narrator and younger sister Faizah knows that blue is the color of the ocean and the sky, fit for a princess, like the sky on a sunny day, and a color that signifies strength. I especially loved how Faizah admires Asiya and looks forward to the day when she can wear hijab, too.
Aly’s colorfully vibrant illustrations change the focus from up close to further away and bring in an aspect of fantasy, as evidenced by the boat and blue waves in the cover illustration.
A Note about Craft:
Muhammad and Ali use first person point of view to tell this story. But the narrator isn’t the hijab-wearing Asiya, but her younger sister, Faizah. By letting readers experience this story through the eyes of Faizah, the authors add another layer to this coming-of-age story, the bond of sisterhood, and add a main character more relatable for the target picture book age group.
For an insightful review of this book, see Miss Marple’s Musings. This Perfect Picture Book entry is being added to Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Book list. Check out the other great picture books featured there!