Umm Book Reviews

Authors are ever inspired by other authors. Writing requires deep reflection, but it is also based on reading the world around us–its books, articles, sights, sounds and smells. In the space below, author Umm Muhemmed endeavors to provide a book review of a recent book that touched her. Additional reviews may be found at: Umm Reviews.

Laila’s Lunchbox, read April 18th, 2016
Laila’s Lunchbox was suggested as a title to me by one of my own dear book reviewers. Prompted by the local librarian who had offered to organize a Ramadan activity, I wrote to several well-read moms asking for Ramadan titles. I had heard neither of the author nor the title but was intrigued by a book which purported to tackle some of the challenges of navigating ones religious rituals in public school–challenges we have faced increasingly as a family this year.

I read the story to my daughter on the morning of April 18th, a morning many of us will remember with the Houston floods. Time had stopped in our household, schools were closed and the children sought extra outlets. And so I read the story, though admittedly I was distracted by the flooding, my own pending work deliverables and a unexpected day off schedule. Later that evening, as the waters abated and we readied for bed, my daughter asked me to reread the story. Odd, I thought. Didn’t we read this book just 10 hours earlier. “Ammi, please read it again.” And so I consented, knowing full well that I had not given it the attention it deserved in the first pass.

This time many things caught my eye–the beautiful water colored illustrations, the anxiety of the little girl, but also the power to overcome and find solutions. As I read, I watched my daughter’s face. It was as though she was agreeing with each page, identifying with little Laila and the trials she faced. As I closed the book a second time in one very long, wet day, I realized just how much the story had helped and inspired my own little girl.

Apart from giving this book to the local public library, we’ll also be sharing it with her 2nd grade class next week in the local public school. We’ll combine it with a simple Ramadan craft for the class to help spread awareness about our holiday. I pray that Laila’s Lunchbox reaches many and is of benefit, as it has been for us.