Author(s): Omar S Khawaja
Illustrator(s): Leo Antolini
Publisher: Little Big Kids
Fasting, good deeds, empathy oh boy! It’s a story about discovery and of Ramadan Joy! The month of Ramadan is here! It’s a special time of year. But, when on the morning of the first day of Ramadan Duck learns he cannot eat or drink until sunset, he gets a little concerned. Join Ilyas & Duck in this rhyming adventure as they learn about the joys of Ramadan and all the blessings they bring. There’s a surprise at every turn!
Why I like it:
- The illustrations are amazing! I actually used a few to make a visual schedule last Ramadan.
- “Ramadan is about compassion, empathy, gratitude, and a reminder of how fragile you are and that Allah is the one who provides for me.” The story summarizes these points and leaves lots of room for parents to talk about all these concepts and the “hard words”. Plus I like how the relatively difficult words (ie. self-discipline, restraint, confidence) are bold and larger.
- Duck being duck is impatient, and kids can relate to that.
- This is the first book they introduced a villain (Mister Mean), who wants to ruin Ramadan. Kind of like the Grinch but instead of trying to steal all the presents, he’s making the kids play longer and giving out cookies! He also has this MCORP Rumor Van that spreads rumors, and brainwashes kids to gossip and break promises as well. This is a good talking point on how Shaytan does similar things.
- I like how the author chose the characters to dress up as sheriffs instead of typical caped superheroes! That was unique.
- When Sheriff Ilyas and Deputy Duck go to find Mister Mean he gets away and just leaves as opposed to being defeated by the heroes. I personally found that VERY odd the first time I read the book, but now we talk about how Mister Mean comes back EVERY year and you have to chase him away every year.
- I like how the story mentions that the reward for a good deed gets multiplied many times.
- The story ends in the “middle of Ramadan”, where Ilyas and Duck appreciate the days that have passed and look forward to the blessings that the last ten nights will bring. There’s no mention of Eid-al-Fitr in the main story line. I love that it doesn’t overlap with the Eid al Fitr book at all, making them both essential for your library! (The eid book focuses on good deeds while this book focuses on positive character traits)
- One of the page spreads is illustrated with trading cards of good qualities – health, taqwa, compassion, patience, good habits. They are actually available as collectible cards on ilyasandduck.com/ramadan
- The newspaper on the last page is filled with information and laughs! It’s amazing how the crossword puzzle at the end just introduces so much information in a unique manner!
- While the illustrations mainly include Ilyas and Duck, the kids shown are of diverse ethnicities.
Things that could be improved:
- Mister Mean says that Ramadan is “for 30 days” like three times! While there is no mention throughout the story that these days can vary, on the last page (newspaper clipping) it mentions that each islamic month starts with the new moon so kids can infer that the number of days in Ramadan won’t always be 30. It would have been better if this information was a little more “obvious”.
- You can have a whole Ilyas and Duck themed iftar/eid party [https://www.instagram.com/eventsbyaisha/]
Pinterest Board: click here
We’ve been Ilyas and Duck fans since the first book came out, so this review may be a teeny tiny bit biased. My kids absolutely adore Duck and love his silly expressions.
This book is one of our top three Ramadan favs, and gets picked up a lot throughout the year and not just in Ramadan (which is indicative of how great it is!). The illustrations are fantastic and probably why this book is loved so much! It’s a pretty “comprehensive” Ramadan book for kids that covers how we fast, why we fast, how fasting benefits you, what you’re not supposed to do during Ramadan, highlights positive character traits (compassion, taqwa, patience, good habits, and health) and briefly mentions the last ten nights. Plus it has more facts and tidbits at the end in the form of an interesting newspaper clipping. Yes it has ALL this, and yet it’s NOT preachy! Plus it also includes super villains and sheriffs! This is a unique FUN and educational book, and a “must have” for your kids library.
Plus follow ilyasandduck because they usually have Ramadan events going on for kids!