Abdul’s Story

Salaam Reads. Jun. 2022. 40p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781534462984.
PreS-Gr 1–Abdul, a kid with skin the color of the orange of a sunset and a hairstyle cut high and tight, is full of stories, and his classmates clamor for them. The residents of his neighborhood star in these stories because Abdul observes everything and misses little. An author visits his class, sending Abdul into a tailspin of worry. Some letters challenge him; he erases a lot; he makes a mess on the page. The teacher, Mr. Muhammad, shows Abdul his own messy notebook, and opens the boy’s mind up to rewriting, and reworking, until the story on the page matches Abdul’s ideals. That one adult can turn a child away from self-loathing to self-realization is a common theme, but it’s transcendent here. There is no epiphany, no abrupt connection but instead loads of hard work and compassion, as well as patience. In the cheerful illustrations, the classroom is full of supporting characters of many backgrounds, but this is definitely Abdul’s story.
VERDICT A realistic look at what it takes to improve, this book will find a wide audience among other children who have struggled with words.

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