I Went for Hajj by Na’mina B. Robert,  illustrated by Paula Pang

I Went for Hajj by Na’mina B. Robert,  illustrated by Paula Pang. Kube Publishing, 2021. 9780860377528

Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 3

Format: Hardcover picture book

What did you like about the book?  In sing-song rhyme, a young boy recounts his trip to Makkah (or Mecca) for Hajj. Starting with the airplane ride, the young narrator cycles excitedly through various aspects of the experience, describing the clothing he wore, the sounds of prayer, the various sights (including the mosque, the Ka’aba, and the station of Abraham), the required observances, and the tents where he slept afterwards. The book opens with an extensive preface that lists points to highlight when reading the book aloud (including the significance of all the rituals) and ends with a glossary of religious terminology. The cartoonish digital art presents very literal and inclusive images of people practicing the Islamic faith; a variety of skin tones can be seen amongst the pilgrims and we even see a person in a wheelchair visiting the mosque. 

Anything you didn’t like about it? There’s no story here, so it’s unclear to me why it’s being presented as such. The author apparently wrote an early book called Going to Mecca (2014) that looks to be a more comprehensive and attractive treatment, although this one is certainly pitched to a younger audience. The illustrations have what seemed to be an unintentionally fuzzy look, as though the reproduction was poorly executed. Although the book details the Hajj, it never explains why Islams make the journey or its centrality to their faith. Readers may assume that it’s common for children to go to Makkah but in my quick research, I learned that’s not the case and that such a visit would not supplant the obligatory pilgrimage all Muslims must make in adulthood.

To whom would you recommend this book?  This book could be of interest to Muslim families with a child who is wondering about an adult family member’s upcoming Hajj. As such, it may be of special interest to Islamic centers that house children’s collections. I don’t think it would be very engaging or helpful for non-Muslim families looking to learn more about the faith and its rituals. 

Who should buy this book? Public libraries and religious centers

Where would you shelve it? Picture books

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? No

Reviewer: Susan Harari, Keefe Library, Boston Latin School, Boston, MA

Date of review: December 17, 2021

This entry was posted in *Book Review, *Picture Book, Author, Islam, Na'ima B. Robert, Paula Pang, Religion and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.