My Name Is Bilal

Asma Mobin Uddin, Author, Barbara Kiwak, Illustrator , illus. by Barbara Kiwak. Boyds Mills $15.95 (32p) ISBN 978-1-59078-175-3

The classrooms and playgrounds of Average Town, U.S.A., are the backdrop for this picture book about religious prejudice and tolerance. When Bilal and his sister Ayesha arrive at a new school, Bilal is sure that he and Ayesha are the only Muslim kids around, and some of the boys have already bullied Ayesha because of her traditional dress. Bilal wants so badly not to stand out in his new environment, that he initially introduces himself as "Bill." Lucky for him, his teacher is also Muslim (and a family friend) and provides some support—along with an interesting book about a famous Muslim hero whose name was also Bilal. Soon Bilal reconnects with his pride in his religious identity and also makes new friends. Mobin-Uddin, making her picture-book debut, tackles a timely topic and raises some true-to-life situations, but Bilal's struggle is all-too-neatly and quickly resolved. Still, the book does a good job of presenting encouraging, positive images that contemporary Muslims in particular can embrace. Kiwak, also a newcomer to children's books, uses an earthy watercolor palette for a series of moving portraits. Ages 6-up. (Aug.)

Reviewed on: 08/29/2005
Release date: 08/01/2005
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