cover image Salat in Secret

Salat in Secret

Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow, illus. by Hatem Aly. Random House Studio, $18.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-984848-09-3

On Muhammad’s birthday, his father gives him a special gift: it’s the Black Muslim boy’s first prayer rug, one that features “fuzzy patterns and gold stitching” and a “too-sweet incense smell” that tickles his nose. With great joy, Daddy offers the gift, saying, “You’re seven now... Old enough to pray five times a day!” Simple text from Thompkins-Bigelow (Hold Them Close) details Muhammad observing salat—the Islamic prayer that occurs five times daily—that evening. But memories of his father being laughed at for praying in public cause Muhammad to worry about where he’ll pray at school, and the next day, he can’t quite bring himself to ask his teacher for assistance. That evening, Muhammad and his dad go for a drive in the family ice cream truck, and as the sun sets, his father steps out to pray on the sidewalk. Muhammad watches as his father continues praying, despite the interruptions of passersby. His father’s devotion inspires Muhammad to join him, and the next day, Muhammad asks his teacher to help him find a place to pray. Digital patterned art and vibrant backdrops by Aly (The Proudest Blue) depict the tale’s ample emotions in this sincerely wrought celebration of family and faith. Ages 4–8. Author’s agent: Essie White, Storm Literary. Illustrator’s agent: Alex Gehringer, Bright Agency. (June)