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My Name Is Bilal Hardcover – August 1, 2005

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 6 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 7
  • Hardcover: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Boyds Mills Press (August 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1590781759
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590781753
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 10.3 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #452,044 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 3-6–A well-done treatment of a subject not often seen in children's picture books. Bilal transfers to a school where he and his sister are the only Muslim children. After an incident in which a boy pulls off Ayesha's headscarf, Bilal decides to hide the fact that he is Muslim until an understanding teacher, who is also Muslim, gives him a biography of Bilal ibn Rabah, a black slave who became the very first muezzin because of his steadfastness in the face of religious persecution. Attractive watercolor illustrations emphasize the parallels between the persecution faced by Bilal ibn Rabah and that faced by the American boy. This is an important book for most libraries as it will enhance discussions of cultural diversity and understanding.–Kathleen E. Gruver, Burlington County Library, Westampton, NJ
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Gr. 4-7. Bilal and his sister, Ayesha, who are Muslim, start school in a new city. At first Bilal tries to blend into the largely non-Muslim environment, calling himself Bill and ducking out of sight when two boys try to pull off Ayesha's head scarf. Encouraged by a sympathetic teacher and his own faith, Bilal finds the courage to stand up with his sister the next time the boys tease her. Bilal and Ayesha point out to their adversaries that they too were born in America and that being American means that they can wear what they want. By standing up for his sister, Bilal earns the boys' respect and takes the first step toward a possible friendship. The story is told in picture-book format, though the text is longer than that of most picture books. In the illustrations, the students appear to be in middle school, but the book is accessible to younger children as well. Appearing on nearly every double-page spread, large-scale watercolor paintings clearly portray the actions and attitudes of the characters. A good starting place for discussions of cultural differences, prejudice, and respect for the beliefs of others. Carolyn Phelan
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Anatidae Ling on December 19, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Portrays a familiar school situation with depth and sensitivity. Other kids at Bilal's new school tear off his sister's head scarf and make anti-Muslim remarks. Bilal feels he needs to hide his Muslim identity, and we (the readers) understand why. We all understand what it's like to be singled-out and afraid, even if our specific situation is not the same as Bilal's. Some concerned adults help Bilal feel comfortable about embracing his identity as a Muslim, but Bilal finds a way to make peace with the bully all on his own. Bilal's solution has to do with teamwork and sportsmanship, and it gives us insight into Bilal's developing character. Spirituality is built into the story in a subtle and satisfying way. This multi-layered story will appeal people of many faiths. Bilal's story transcends categories of religion or nationality.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Edward D. Ott Jr. on September 26, 2005
Format: Hardcover
It was so nice to see a book that showed how difference can be overcome by simply standing up for yourself. I think every third grade classroom should have this book. It is also nice to see Muslims portrayed in a postive light for a change.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Ayesha Zaheer-Chaudry on December 10, 2007
Format: Hardcover
A sensitive and thoughtful book that each of us can relate to. Most of us have all been "picked on" at sometime during our school days. Regardless of where we come from, what religion we belong to or what the color of our skin is, we can all relate to feeling alienated and like we just don't fit in. Learning to stand up for yourself and developing confidence in who you are some of the most defining moments in our lives. This book gives courage to children shows them that they are not alone.
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10 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Maria Beadnell on December 2, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Ho hum! Another dealing-with-bullies books like we had in the 70's where all you had to do was tell the bully to respect you and he did.

Except this one is about being Muslim, and written by a Muslim, a woman yet. I suppose this gives the story authenticity. It's still as hollow as a ping-pong ball.

Of course it is a bad thing to pick on people for their ethnic and/or religious background. I agree completely with the implied message. But this book won't help. "Standing up for oneself" is not a believable answer. In my considerable experience both as a former child and now a professional in children's services, I can say that impulsive "standing up for yourself" usually only makes the situation worse.

On top of which the author totally stacks the deck in favor of the protaganist. His teacher turns out to be Muslim. And his teacher is not only Muslim, but a very nice person. And this very nice coincidentally Muslim teacher just happens to have a book about the hero our protaganist is named after. And there's another Muslim boy (or two) in the school in need of somebody with whom to pray.

This has all the force and depth of those old books where the one who doesn't make the glee club is delighted to be able to pass out programs at the concert. It's contrived, unrealistic, and likely to give either false hope or a feeling of hopelessness to any child in the situation.

I can't understand why the professional reviewers listed didn't say, "We've seen this plot, and it didn't work last time, either."

The few things this book has in its favor are that at least it __is__ a book about Muslims for kids --there are not very many--the illustrations are pretty, and although the plot is a waste the structure of the writing itself is clear and soothing.
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