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There are questions we all ask when we are learning what it means to be human. Who invented my hands? Why wasn’t I born with wings? And does the moon ever get lonely.” –Yo Soy Muslim
Yo Soy Muslim: A Father’s Letter to His Daughter
by Mark Gonzales
AR Test, Picture Book
5 - 8
Written as a letter from a father to his daughter, Yo Soy Muslim is a celebration of social harmony and multicultural identities. The vivid and elegant verse, accompanied by magical and vibrant illustrations, highlights the diversity of the Muslim community as well as indigenous identities. A literary journey of discovery and wonder, Yo Soy Muslim is sure to inspire adults and children alike.
A beautiful letter, Yo Soy Muslim encourages the daughter to celebrate her Latino heritage and her Muslim faith. The story uses poetic language and focuses on a positive message of having pride in one’s faith. Through both the text and the words, the author points out that some people “will not smile at you.” The illustration shows one woman glaring at the little girl and another woman whispering to someone. The father tells his daughter, “On that day tell them this: Yo soy Muslim. I am from Allah, angels, and a place almost as old as time. I speak Spanish, Arabic, and dreams.” Although the father clearly wants his daughter to feel pride in her heritage, children may not understand the abstract language.
The letter is beautifully illustrated with deep colors and natural scenes. However, the scenes where people look down on the child are darker and have shades of black. The color contrast represents both the negativity of people and the celebration of the child’s culture. Even though Yo Soy Muslim is a picture book, the story should be read with an adult. Although younger readers will love the beautiful pictures, they may need help understanding the message. Some lines will be confusing. For example, “There are questions we will ask when we are learning what it means to be human.”
Any child who has ever felt different will relate to Yo Soy Muslim. Even though the story focuses on a Muslim family, and there are references to God, the story is not an introduction to Islam. Instead, it’s a letter reminding a little girl to “Dance. Smile. Laugh. Pray. Say it with me: Yo Soy Muslim.”
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