The Proudest Blue

  • Title: The Proudest Blue
  • Author: Ibtihaj Muhammad with S.K. Ali
  • Art by: Hatem Aly
  • Publisher: Little, Brown, and Company
  • Publication year: 2019
  • Brief Summary: From the publisher- “With her new backpack and light-up shoes, Faizah knows the first day of school is going to be special. It’s the start of a brand new year and, best of all, it’s her older sister Asiya’s first day of hijab–a hijab of beautiful blue fabric, like the ocean waving to the sky. But not everyone sees hijab as beautiful, and in the face of hurtful, confusing words, Faizah will find new ways to be strong.” From Little, Brown, and Company.
  • Ideas for using this book in classroom or library – This picture book is a great example of a picture book for older children, one that could be used for grades 3-4 as well as for smaller children. This would be a wonderful book to introduce to children as they are learning about different faiths and beliefs. However, this book could also be used to open a safe dialogue about bullying, and show a child, by quoting Mama, that the words of bullies do not have to hurt you: “Mama: Don’t carry around the hurtful words that others say. Drop them. They are not yours to keep. They belong only to those who said them.”
  • Whatever additional notes you’d like to add about this book and why you liked or didn’t like it – I would be lying if I didn’t mention that this book caused me to cry a bit. The richness of the text is only heightened by the outstanding images that Halem Aly created digitally and then, as noted in the back of the book: “the textures were done with ink washes and pencil on watercolor paper.” On the page I quoted above, the words of Mama are overlaid on a beautiful image of Asiya and her blue hijab spanning two pages. On the opposite page, with the sun in the distance, and her blue hijab acting as a background, Asiya and her friends run away from the painful words spoken by the bullies. The bullies, who are shadowed in a lackluster brown drawing (like that of a child’s drawing) are drawn small, on the page before. The images in this book are captivating, done in greens and bright colors which only parallel the “brightest” blue of Asiya’s hijab. One of my favorite illustrations is a full two page spread of Asiya’s hijab which extends into an ocean. Faizah, carried in a small paper boat upon this ocean, looks on, staring proudly at the serene face of Asiya.

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