THE BEST EID EVER by Asma Mobin-Uddin. Boyds Mill Press, 2007. $16.95. 32 pages. Ages 9-12.
Asma Mobin-Uddin’s picture book, The Best Eid Ever, celebrates the joys of the religious festival. A Pakistani American, Mobin-Uddin is an active member of the Muslim American community. Like many multi-cultural writers, her books were inspired by the need to write a story her kids could relate to. Her first picture book, My Name is Bilal, was highly acclaimed. The Best Eid Ever has also won several awards, including the 2008 Skipping Stones Honor Award.
One Eid day, a little girl named Aneesa comes across two poorly clothed sisters. She learns their house has burnt down. The girls have fled a war, and come to America, and their father has to work even on Eid. Aneesa thinks of a plan to help the girls that, in the end, results in her having the best Eid ever.
The Best Eid Ever is very much in keeping with the tradition of holiday storybooks, where the protagonists remember those who are less fortunate. It celebrates the universal truth that a person is much happier giving a gift than being the recipient of one. Mobin-Uddin weaves together a rich but simple story with an American setting and festive Muslim details.
Artist Laura Jacobsen does the illustrations with pastels, missing an opportunity to use the vivid red and green colors traditional to Muslims. However the pictures do help the reader imagine the scenes. An appended author’s note explains the difference between Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha and that the characters in this story are celebrating the latter, which commemorates the prophet Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son to God.
The Best Eid Ever is the kind of story that will warm any child’s heart, while capturing the spirit of the festival. Its message is that the most touching gifts are those that come with a sacrifice. It is an appropriate tale for a country that shelters refugees who sometimes need to rely on the goodwill of strangers.
Tara Menon is a freelance writer based in Lexington, Massachusetts.