Curious George, the lovable, adorable monkey, and his stylish, caregiver-friend, The Man in the Yellow Hat, have gone on a wealth of adventures together – educating young minds along the way. Curious George has taught readers about Hanukkah and Christmas, and now it’s time for the little monkey to learn about a different holiday: Ramadan, the Muslim holy month of prayer, fasting, and introspection.
In his latest book, It’s Ramadan, Curious George, written by Pakistani-American author Hena Khan, George meets Kareem, a young boy who teaches George and The Man in the Yellow Hat about the traditions and customs of Ramadan. According to the NY Daily News, Khan wanted to connect to Muslim readers and introduce the holy holiday to non-Muslim readers through the well-known, much loved character. While she admits it was intimidating to work with the famous monkey at first, “those feelings quickly gave way to the thrill of introducing George to new concepts and traditions that I hold dear, and to know that he would in turn bring them to other children and their parents.”
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Among other works, Khan is the author of two children’s books about Islamic traditions: Golden Domes and Silver Lanterns and Night of the Moon. As a Muslim mother with children growing up in the United States, Khan felt that there was a demand for more relatable children’s books about Muslim life. Khan stated, “I wanted to reinforce the message that American Muslims are just as American as anyone else… Some of us are descended from immigrants and have other cultures and other foods that we embrace. We still love pizza and burgers as much as the next person.”
In the book, she portrays the diversity of the Muslim-American community (whether it be appearance, attire, or degree of practice). To emphasize that, just like in any religion, “all Muslims are not homogeneous and don’t look a certain way.”
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Khan and her editor were careful not to offend those of Muslim faith, but also expect some backlash from both the Muslim and non-Muslim community. Khan stated that in a time of anti-Muslim rhetoric, “…I think it’s important as a Muslim writer now to share our cultural traditions and show that things we care about as humans – family, community, and living a good life – are the same across the board.”
It’s Ramadan, Curious George is already available for pre-order and will hit bookstores in May.
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