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The Picture Book Buzz

The Night Before Eid - Perfect Picture Book Friday #PPBF

A lively and tender book combining the joy of family time and baking together with a celebration of the history and traditions of Eid.

The Night Before Eid: A Muslim Family Story


Author: Aya Khalil


Illustrator: Rashin Kheiriyeh


Publisher: Christy Ottaviano Books/Hatchette Book Group (2023)


Ages: 4-8


Fiction


Themes:

Eid, culture, baking, family, holiday tradition, and creativity.


Synopsis:

Celebrate the end of Ramadan with this luminous Muslim family story about faith, history, and delicious foods.


On the night before Eid, it’s finally time to make special sweet treats: Teita’s famous ka’ak. Zain eagerly unpacks the ingredients from his grandmother’s bulky suitcase: ghee from Khalo Karim, dates from Amo Girgis, and honey from Tant Tayseer—precious flavors all the way from Egypt. Together with Mama and Teita, Zain follows his family’s recipe and brings to life Eid songs and prayers, pharaonic history, and the melodies and tastes of his Egyptian heritage.


This Muslim holiday story, featuring a delicious ka’ak recipe, is a satisfying addition to a joyful and expansive Eid.


Opening Lines:

It is the night before Eid, and Teita is finally here from Egypt.

Zain and Mama are ready to help Teita with her famous ka’ak.

This is Zain’s first time making the sweet treats. He can’t wait

to share them with his class.


What I LOVED about this book:

From the opening illustration and text we feel both Zain's excitement at his Teita's arrival from Egypt and anticipation of helping her make special ka’ak - cookies with "fillings of finger-licking flavor." I love the frisky feline that Rashin Kheiriyeh added to the story; which beautifully mimics Zain's emotions and energy throughout the book.

Text © Aya Khalil, 2023. Image © Rashin Kheiriyeh, 2023.

Through unpacking Teita's suitcase and the reminiscing of Mama and Teita, we learn about the special ingredients (brought from Egypt) and the history of ka’ak both in Zain's family and in Egypt's past. Aya Khalil's use of Egyptian Arabic dialect and cultural references offers both a mirror for Muslim children and an immersive window for others.

Text © Aya Khalil, 2023. Image © Rashin Kheiriyeh, 2023.


Geddo played Eid songs such as “Ahlan Bel Eid” and “Ya Leilet El

Eid” on his tabla while everyone sang together on the balcony that

overlooked streets filled with colorful lanterns and bright lights.


The illustrations, done with "acrylic, oil, ink, spray paint, crayon, and pencil, on watercolor paper," have an almost chalk-like appearance; providing a rich texture and looseness to them. And the teal, pink, black, and orange palette is simultaneously soothing and vibrant. Fun onomatopoeia and descriptive text accompany multiple illustrations of the entire family enjoying making the cookies. Until, Zain's determination that the ka’ak turn out perfectly so his class will like them, causes things to go awry.

Text © Aya Khalil, 2023. Image © Rashin Kheiriyeh, 2023.


The ending is a celebration of love, understanding, creativity, imagination (an ice-skating penguin), and a connection to culture. All of which is enhanced by a history of Eid and ka’ak, an author's note (accompanied by family photos) about celebrating Eid, and a "Simple Ka’ak Recipe." This is a wonderful book for families celebrating Eid and for introducing others to this tradition and especially these "delectable, delicate, crunchy, crumbly cookies." [Okay, who else is hungry?] As well as a touching ode to family time.


Resources:

- make a couple of your own Ramadan lanterns.


- try the "Simple Ka’ak Recipe" at the back of the book.


- does your family have traditional sweets or foods they make for holidays? What would you take to share with your class?


If you missed the interview with Aya Khalil on Monday, find it (here).


This post is part of a series by authors and KidLit bloggers called Perfect Picture Book Fridays. For more picture book suggestions and resources see Susanna Leonard Hill's Perfect Picture Books.

Comments


Maria Marshall

 Photograph © A. Marshall

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