cover image Salam Alaikum: A Message of Peace

Salam Alaikum: A Message of Peace

Harris J, illus. by Ward Jenkins. Salaam Reads, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-4814-8938-6

The rewards of paying it forward are at the heart of this picture book adaptation of Muslim pop musician Harris J’s 2015 song of the same title, an Islamic greeting that means “Peace be upon you.” Jenkins (Chicks Run Wild) provides a down-to-earth visual interpretation of the song’s lyrics in cheery digital illustrations. In the opening scenario, a boy offers his umbrella to a young woman during a rainstorm, sparking a sequence of good deeds in a city park: that woman offers a balloon to a child, who then passes it to a scuffed-up skateboarder, who gives an apple to an elderly woman, and so on. All the while, a brigade led by the original boy is seen in the background toting materials to create a vibrant mural. Though the lyrics are rather anodyne (“You can try and turn off the sun,/ I’m still going to shine anyway/ and tell everyone/ we’re having some fun today”), there’s no questioning the sincerity of the message about kindness and coming together. Ages 4–8. Illustrator’s agent: Jennifer Laughran, Andrea Brown Literary. (Sept.)