Once Upon An Eid (ARC)
Editors: S.K. Ali and Aisha Saeed
Publisher: Amulet Books
Released: May 5th, 2020
Genre: Fiction, Middle Grade/ Children
Format: e-ARC (Netgalley)
Once Upon an Eid is a collection of short stories that showcases the most brilliant Muslim voices writing today, all about the most joyful holiday of the year: Eid!
Eid: The short, single-syllable word conjures up a variety of feelings and memories for Muslims. Maybe it’s waking up to the sound of frying samosas or the comfort of bean pie, maybe it’s the pleasure of putting on a new outfit for Eid prayers, or maybe it’s the gift-giving and holiday parties to come that day. Whatever it may be, for those who cherish this day of celebration, the emotional responses may be summed up in another short and sweet word: joy. The anthology will also include a poem, graphic-novel chapter, and spot illustrations.
The full list of Once Upon an Eid contributors include: G. Willow Wilson (Alif the Unseen, Ms. Marvel), Hena Khan (Amina’s Voice, Under My Hijab), N. H. Senzai (Shooting Kabul, Escape from Aleppo), Hanna Alkaf (The Weight of Our Sky), Rukhsana Khan (Big Red Lollipop), Randa Abdel-Fattah (Does My Head Look Big in This?), Ashley Franklin (Not Quite Snow White), Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow (Mommy’s Khimar), Candice Montgomery (Home and Away, By Any Means Necessary), Huda Al-Marashi (First Comes Marriage), Ayesha Mattu, Asmaa Hussein, and Sara Alfageeh.
I was so excited when my request for this book on Netgalley was approved. This book consists of 15 stories by 15 Muslim authors and one of them is none other than our beloved Malaysian author, Hanna Alkaf. Hanna Alkaf has written a book before which is The Weight of Our Sky and it was a very important book, telling about a dark event in Malaysia, which is the 13th May. She also has another upcoming book, called The Ghost Girl, WHICH I’ve requested and was also approved by the publisher! I’m gonna review that book soon too! I‘m totally not promoting Hanna Alkaf’s books right now, let’s get to the review now. :p
As an overall book, I feel this book has conveyed many important values, Muslim experiences and knowledge that could be understood easily. That’s the reason why this book is perfect for kids, not only Muslims, as well as non-Muslims. This book is here to help to educate our kids to be accepting of others’ cultures and values as well as celebrating this festivity, which is Eid.
However, I do feel that because the target of this book might be for younger audience, I didn’t find myself loving all the stories. Some I found them too simple and detached(?). I definitely don’t hate them, they are okay but just not enough for me. Meanwhile, there are some stories that simply surprised me in a really good way. For example, Hena Khan’s story, The Feast of Sacrifice is simply one of my favourite. I read one of her book before, Amina’s Voice. I was not crazy about that book, but The Feast of Sacrifice was so well put together. It gave you an idea of the meaming of Eid and the meaning of selflessness. This is such a great and heartwarming story to me. I love the fact that Hena Khan tells so much in such a short story. I also enjoyed Not Only An Only by Huda Al-Marashi. It’s a really meaningful and a cute story about friendship and taking pride in your identity.
Of course, last but not least, we have Taste by Hanna Alkaf. This is a very short short story, nothing much was said about it yet it is perfect. It is enough. Taste is about a daughter trying to make lontong like her mother always do for her family’s breaking fast meal because something happened to her mother. I was so emotional when I read this story, not so much because of what happened to the mother, instead I was so proud when all the components of lontong were mentioned in Malay language. I love the sincerity of the girl trying to make something special for her family during Ramadan even though she’s just 12. I love how every time Hanna writes a story, she writes it for Malaysians. *I’m actually emotional when writing this part of the review gosh*
Overall, this was definitely an enjoyable book. I feel like this is a very good representation of Muslims. Books like Once Upon An Eid should be written more, POC authors’ works should be published more abundantly because we need to hear their voices and we need our voices to be represented well.