Jinni on the Roof

Author: Natasha Rafi 

Illustrator(s): Abdul Malik Channa

Publisher: Pamir LLC

Year: 2013

Topics: Ramadan, Pakistan

Description: 

Eight-year-old Raza is too young to fast, but he longs for the delicious parathas the grown-ups eat before dawn. The aroma of the flaky, golden bread tempts him. He cannot wait for the children’s breakfast, but he’ll get into trouble if anyone finds him up this early. Lying in bed, Raza hatches a plan. Will he get away with it? This is a delightful tale about a mischievous boy who learns the true meaning of Ramadan – patience and empathy. Age range 4 -8 years.

Brief Synopsis: 

Raza is too little to fast but loves parathas! On a weeknight he accidently wakes up before Sehri, decides to go on the roof and speaks through the chimney to trick the cook into thinking he’s a jinn/jinni. The cook goes to the grandmother, who tells her to make the parathas and writes a little note for the jinni. Having been caught by his grandmother Raza now has to help wash dishes after iftar till the end of Ramadan.

Why I like it: 

  • It introduces kids to parathas, and there’s a paratha recipe at the end!
  • There’s urdu words like lassi, sehri, Ramzan, chair, chand raat with a glossary at the end!
  • I was reminded of the “siren” before the Fajr azan, and I enjoyed sharing that with my kid.
  • The “Jinni” is described as a mysterious creature
  • The illustrations showed a typical Pakistani house and will make you wanting Parathas by the end of the story!
  • Even though it’s a relatively harmless prank, Raza got a consequence for his actions. Teaches a good lesson in patience and empathy!
  • The story ends with Raza fasting for the first time in Ramadan (next year), and his family celebrates his first fast money and presents. It’s a celebration kids can look forward to when they too fast for the first time.
  • Overall it’s a ‘fun’ story that takes place during Ramadan, and the author included an educational note on Ramadan at the end of the book.

Things that could be improved: 

I don’t know if it’s the age thing (almost 5) or the “American”-Pakistani thing but omgggg there were sooo many questions! [But these could be valid questions for people not aware of the Pakistani culture]

  • Why are all the beds in one room? Why is the uncle sleeping in the kids room?
  • ALL the aunts and uncles are visiting? How do they decide whose house everyone goes to?
  • Why do they have a cook? And why is the cook making parathas at night?
  • What is a children’s breakfast? Children don’t eat with grownups in Pakistan?
  • Raza climbed on the roof? at night? isn’t that dangerous?
  • What are jinni stories? Why is she scared of the jinni? Are jinnis real? Do you know jinni stories?
  • What is a plump doughy body? He called her fat?! That’s not nice!
  • Why was she blowing out imaginary candles? Mama, do you blow out candles? Come on, show me the traditional way of making evil go away. Does it work on evil bad guys?
  • Why is the cat drinking milk from the pan? Is that how pets drink in Pakistan?
  • How did his mom not know he was on the roof all night?
  • Is jinn and jinni the same thing? (There was a spelling error, where Jinni was written as Jinn) Tell me! What’s a jinn?
  • Why don’t I get eidi? Can I get eidi AND presents this year?

Additional Activities: 

Make parathas (recipe is in the book)

Pinterest Board: (this will have a link)

Overall:

It’s a unique story set in Lahore Pakistan, about a little kid who plays a prank on his cook for parathas.

Raza is too little to fast but loves parathas! On a weeknight he accidently wakes up before Sehri, decides to go on the roof and speaks through the chimney to trick the cook into thinking he’s a jinn/jinni. The cook goes to the grandmother, who tells her to make the parathas and writes a little note for the jinni. Having been caught by his grandmother Raza now has to help wash dishes after iftar. It’s an entertaining read.

There are many cultural elements and it will resonate with Pakistani kids (and parents who grew up in Pakistan). It’s more for the 5+ age group and I wouldn’t really recommend it for little kids unless you want to introduce the concept of Jinn and be bombarded with questions!

Other reviews: 

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