Never Give Up by Kathryn Cole
📚 BOOK REVIEW 📚
Title: Never Give Up: A story about self-esteem
Author: Kathryn Cole
Illustrator: Qin Leng
Publisher: Second Story Press
Islamic Content: None, Muslim character
Concerns: 'She crossed her fingers and made a wish: Please let my idea work.'
Nadia watched Shaun struggling to ride his bike which still had its training wheels attached. When a few kids begin belittling Shaun for his training wheels, although he is doing his best to ignore their taunts, Shaun becomes flustered and falls. Nadia feels a huge weight of guilty for not being able to find the courage to step in. After explaining this to her father and with his help she comes up with a plan that will help Shaun overcome his struggle.
The message in this story is incredibly valuable: self-esteem. Nadia's character shows care, selflessness and determination to help her friend. I love that Shaun tries not to allow the words of the others affect him, however it comes through when he stumbles down with his bike. The tender relationship that Nadia has with her father is just so beautiful. Once Nadia and her father help Shaun gain confidence and help him ride his bike without his training wheels, the bullies join in and cheer him on. This book is so impactful in the way the resolution takes place. Often times the message can be more powerful when it is done in a creative way rather than in a confrontational manner, like it does here.
As Muslims, wishful thinking and crossing fingers for 'good luck' is something we steer away from as it is considered to go against Islam's fundamental beliefs. We encourage our kids to make du'a (supplication) to Allah as He is the only One who overseas our affairs and grant us anything we ask of Him, including non-tangible and situational circumstances. This book isn't written or published by Muslims, and their choice to stay more secular in order to appeal to all audiences is understandable.
While I am grateful to see more books with Muslim characters doing normal things, we also want them to be more accurate in representation not just visibly there.