cover image Salaam: A Muslim American Boy's Story

Salaam: A Muslim American Boy's Story

Tricia Brown, , photos by Ken Cardwell. . Holt, $17.95 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-8050-6538-1

At the start of Brown's (Hello, Amigos! ) informative, timely photobiography (the title of which means "peace"), young Imran's ingenuous first-person narrative and Cardwell's intimate black-and-white photographs reveal the lad engaged in everyday activities. He plays in the park, blows out birthday candles with his pals at a party, pretends to be a rock star (his career dream) and hangs out with his best friend, Trevor. The tone and subject change abruptly as Imran explains that one day his mother (who was not born a Muslim, but converted when she married) answered the phone to hear a stranger say "mean things about our family being Muslim. The call upset her." Trevor (and readers) then becomes Imran's audience as he briefly explains his religion's basic beliefs and traditions, including reading the Qur'an, making pilgrimages to Mecca and the celebration of Ramadan. Although older readers may see the narrator's closing message coming, his voice is inviting. After noting that some people don't understand the beliefs of Muslims, Imran suggests, "Maybe when they come to know us better, they will like us.... The people who know us respect our differences, and in their hearts they know that we are just like them." Despite the expositional structure, the boy's direct voice and Cardwell's spontaneous (though occasionally grainy) photos may well make readers feel that they are guests in Imran's home, and the book is a sure stepping stone to a better understanding of the Muslim faith. Ages 4-8. (Apr.)