While I was on holiday early last month I read a newspaper article about It’s Ramadan, Curious George by Hena Khan. I placed the book on hold but knew I would not be able to access it until my library system’s strike was over. My blog has featured reviews of a few books of juvenile fiction as well as nonfiction, however I have never heretofore reviewed a board book. It took me less than ten minutes to read this, and I can map my reading timeline while I was on the bus. I started it when I got the Dundas bus at Confederation and finished it by the time it arrived at Haines Road. I like to see diversity in juvenile literature and I opened It’s Ramadan, Curious George with delightful anticipation. The drawings are reminiscent of those by original Curious George illustrator H. A. Rey. During the story George bakes cookies with his friend Kareem, then the little monkey spends his day trying to distract him because Kareem’s tummy keeps rumbling during the days of fasting. Sunset means the break of fasting, and then George gets excited about dinnertime. What monkey wouldn’t? George joins Kareem and his family as they pack up food baskets and take them to the mosque. The book ends with Eid and happy families gathered outside the mosque.
This book was probably written for Muslim children who already know the meaning of Ramadan and the traditions surrounding the days of fasting. The text, written in quatrains with the rhyming scheme ABCB, does not explain the meaning of Ramadan or the significance of sunset or looking for the crescent moon, so non-Muslim parents who bring this book home for their children might be at a loss explaining these traditions. It might have been a good idea for Khan to explain a few things since the star of the book is a famous monkey known for his boundless curiosity. However, knowing who the intended reading audience is, it is safe to say that children and their parents will be happy to see themselves and their religious traditions reflected in a book with the adorable character of Curious George.