My Grandma and Me (Mina Javaherbin, Author, Lindsey Yankey, Illustrator, published 2019)
In this warm and enveloping look at universal love, author Mina Javaherbin takes a nostalgic snuggle back into her childhood in Iran growing up with her grandmother or Khanom as she lovingly used to call her.
Her world centers around this kind loving figure whose day starts with dawn prayers with the author playfully joining in. As they bustle about their day with ingenuity – picking up the bread without leaving their third floor apartment, and kindness – they share their baked goods with their neighbor Annette and her grandmother, both adults and kids delight in their friends company.
The author imbibes a touch of magic to everyday activities. Her imagination soars in adventures into space while Ramadan outings to the mosque with her Grandma ground her to the realities around her. From carefree games of hopscotch with her friend under the watchful eyes and busy hands, the girls absorb life lessons through the actions of both their grandmothers.
This lovely book manages to capture the warmth of nurturing relationships. The illustrations add a sense of coziness with their warm palettes of red, blue and green. The mixing of traditional elements such as the intricate patterns in the Persian carpets and the mosaic in the mosque along with the more modern elements and reaching for the stars provide a well-rounded image of a country not much seen in diverse literature.
I particularly loved the use of Farsi words such as namaz and chador, and espying the numbers on the hopscotch game which are similar in Urdu as well. While most books on Muslim women focus on hijabs, chadors and dupattas are traditional and culturally preferred veils of modesty in most South Asian countries and this adds to the visual diverse images of Muslim women.
The interfaith angle in the story is also a heartwarming touch which goes to the heart of what the story is about – developing kind and loving relationships with all those around us.
This book wonderfully explores intersecting multiple identities and themes and would be a great addition to these book lists: