Tuesday, January 7, 2014
Deep in the Sahara by Kelly Cunnane, illustrated by Hoda Hadadi
Lalla's sister looks mysterious in her malafa, but she tells Lalla that a malafa is for more than just mystery.
When she tells cousin Aisha she would like to wear a colorful malafa to be a lady, again she is told that a malafa is for more than just being a lady.
And Grandmother tells her a malafa is for more than just tradition, when Lalla approaches her.
When Lalla looks around her and sees the men going to pray in mosques, and the women praying in quiet places, she tells her mother that she wants to wear a malafa so she can pray just like her mother. To her surprise, her mother brings out a beautiful blue malafa and wraps Lalla in it, just like all the girls and women in the village wear theirs.
Slowly, mother and daughter ascend the stairs and Lalla tells her mother that she knows was a malafa is for - it is for faith.
Deep in the Sahara is a lovely story about a young girl (and young readers) learning to understand and appreciate this very important aspect of her Muslim religion. In her Author's Note, Kelly Cunnane writes that before she went to live in Mauritainia, she had viewed wearing the veil as repressive, an idea that I think many non-Muslims have. But she said, once there she realized that it was a positive expression of Islam and she changed her way of thinking about wearing a malafa. This book is an expression of what Cunnane discovered. It certainly reflects the colorful, confident ease with which the women wear their malafas, but shows the importance of understanding just why a girl would chose to do so.
The lovely, colorful college illustrations by Hoda Hadadi, an Iranian artist, adds so much in showing the reader a strong, supportive community and close family relationships that exist in this part of the world. I particularly like the was she showed the different ways women might express themselves in the color and pattern choices of their malafas.
Be sure to read the Author's Note and look at the small glossary of Arabic words used throughout the story. This is a book that will go far in increasing our understanding of the Islamic religion.
This book is recommended for readers age 5+
This book was borrowed from the NYPL