cover image Sister Friend

Sister Friend

Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow, illus. by Shahrzad Maydani. Abrams, $18.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-4197-6721-0

At her new school, every day is “play-by-herself day” for Ameena: “Was it the twists in her hair? Her brown skin? No one else in class had twists and brownness.” Ameena sees a possible companion in new student Sundus, portrayed with brown skin and wearing a lilac-hued hijab, but a well-meaning greeting goes awkwardly awry, and Ameena is called a copycat by classmates when she wears her own hijab to school in hopes of connecting with Sundus. The masjid on family night is the one place Ameena doesn’t feel alone, and it’s there that an encounter with Sundus leads to an in-school welcome and a growing bond. Thompkins-Bigelow’s sweetly complex treatise speaks to experiences of loneliness and marginalization as well as of kinship and joy. In saturated, chalky textures, Maydani draws the girls’ intent expressions against moody backgrounds that lead to scenes of heartfelt friendship. Background characters are portrayed with various abilities and skin tones. Ages 4–8. (May)