Khan, Hena. Crescent Moons and Pointed Minarets: A Muslim Book of Shapes. Mehrdokht Amini, Illus. Picture Book. Chronicle, 2018. pp. $17.99. 978-1-4521-5541-8. OUTSTANDING. GRADES TOD-2.
“Cone is the tip of the minaret so tall. I hear soft echoes of the prayer call,” begins this charming picture book which explores a variety of everyday shapes and angles, as experienced by Muslims of diverse skin tones, who are depicted living, playing, and worshipping together. Written and illustrated by the author and illustrator duo responsible for Golden Domes and Silver Lanterns: A Muslim Book of Colors (2012), the colorful and multidimensional images, feature mixed-media illustrations in deep hues and majestic colors. Amini brings her distinctive style to the work, which includes traditional Islamic geometric patterns and sacred calligraphy. While most of the shapes highlighted are easily detected, a few require a keen eye or re-positioning of the page to see them clearly. Some structures represented within the work are clearly identified while the architectural style of others suggests that the setting could be in any Muslim community across the globe. Amini takes care to give detail to demonstrate the ethnic diversity of Muslims: a dark-brown complexioned woman, who appears to be of African descent has neat cornrows with traditional hair accessories, while some light-brown complexioned women have intricate henna markings on their hands and faces. These subtle cues, as well as the different styles of head coverings worn by the men and women in the book, deftly acknowledge the myriad of Muslim cultures that exist. Every other page of the book features a shape, with a short lyrical description of its role in a Muslim’s life, that includes Islamic terms that will be familiar to Muslims but may be unknown to non-Muslim readers. A glossary explains those Islamic terms, while an author’s note offers context and a brief history of the Islamic art tradition. This will be a welcome addition to a variety of collections and may be enjoyed by those familiar with Muslims and Islamic culture, as well as those wanting to learn more about the everyday joys of Muslim life.
Mahasin Aleem, Oakland Public Library