REFLECTIONS FROM THE CREATOR OF HILMY

Written by Rae Norridge
Originally posed on http://www.kubepublishing.com

Every year brings new challenges to us all, and every year we are that bit older. I ask myself, ‘Am I that bit wiser?’

I am in the fortunate position to travel and experience this beautiful world we live in. As an artist, my eyes are constantly seeking new colours, textures and subjects to paint. As an author, my mind searches for new tales to tell, drawing inspiration from the rich diversity nature has to offer. Sitting at a waterhole, with only the sound of the grass rustling in the wind and the constant chatter of the birds is an enriching experience for me. It gives me time to reflect on life.

Very often, in this busy world, we forget the simple rules and principles that make our lives, and the lives of our friends and families, more tolerant and peaceful.

I have written the Hilmy the Hippo series for young children, but I fervently hope that some adults can learn from Hilmy’s adventures too. For those who have not read the series, Hilmy is the central character in each book, and in each adventure that Hilmy undertakes, we learn a lesson in life. Although these stories are simply told, the message is deeply meaningful. I believe we all have a little bit of Hilmy in us. He reminds us of our own human frailties.

We live in a ‘quick fix’ world, the world of the remote control, the egotistical world of ‘this is me’ social network sites, the deceitful world of photo-shopping, the tragic world or cyber-bullying, and so the list goes on. We all need time to reflect on nature, to learn how to take time out from the pressures of the cyber world. Nature, in it’s simplicity, can give us the answers to the complexities of life.

A rhino is killed every nine-and-a-half hours in Africa. Elephants are poached for the greedy desire for ivory. Habitats are destroyed for logging, housing and industry. Should we continue this destruction of our beautiful planet?

We need, as parents and as adults, to take time to reflect on nature and to teach our children the importance of conserving the diminishing world of our natural environment.

In the Hilmy the Hippo series, I have tried to bring to life the characters and the habitat in which they live. I hope that these stories sew the seeds of caring for our environment, protecting and not exploiting endangered creatures like Hilmy and his friends.

Our children are growing up in a challenging world. We, as parents, need to guide them along the path to being caring and happy adults, and to share this beautiful planet with all Allah’s creatures.

Interview with Hijab Boutique author, Michelle Khan

The interview below was originally posted on http://woodturtle.wordpress.com/

Why did you want to write a book about hijab?

I think hijab is beautiful. The styles. The fabrics. The religious concept behind it. I personally am not a hijabi, but I know women who do adhere. This story idea blossomed when my Bangladeshi-Canadian family doctor decided to become a hijabi as an adult. I wanted to explain this process of change through the eyes of a child. I wanted to teach the values of Islam surrounding hijab. So I did my research, and learned.

I also used my main character, Farah, to point out the frustrations some kids face as a result of their mother’s devotion to hijab. For instance, Farah labels her mother “b-o-r-i-ng” in respect to how glamorous the other students’ mothers appear at Miss Peabody’s Academy. Soon enough, both Farah and readers learn how interesting Mrs. Khan actually is. Her life experiences speak for themselves.

Do you see yourself as a feminist/womanist? And if so, how do you describe your feminism/womanism?

I believe in the power of women. I believe in equal rights. I believe in freedom of choice. In other words, I am a FEMINIST!!! However, you won’t find me burning my bra under the false stereotypical image of what it (cough) means to be a feminist.

I think as a feminist it’s really, really important not to judge other women. We shouldn’t become enemies within ourselves. For instance, Farah Khan (the main character in my book) learns via her mother that some people are quick to judge hijabis by rationalizing that Muslim females are “oppressed” women. Farah now knows better than that. In actuality, many feminists believe hijabis are the ultimate feminists because they refuse to be seen as sex objects. Neat concept, huh?

On the flipside, I’ve learned a lot about European culture through my wonderful fiancée, Alan. In many of our conversations, he’s remarked how some women from his origins (Italy) feel the freedom and choice to reveal their bodies is a form of feminism. It’s ironic how two opposing sides of the same coin fit under one umbrella of “feminism.”

The bottom line is: We’re not here to judge. Rather, as women we should feel compassion for one another. Our world would be much better that way.

What is your religious background and do you consider yourself to be religious now?

I don’t think my religion should be a promotional tool. I don’t want people to purchase my book based on the fact that I am Muslim or not. I want people to take an interest in the “The Hijab Boutique” because they want to read a good story.

Yes, I do believe in a Higher Power. When I pray, I do it with passion. It comes from my heart. Insomuch, I’ve burst into tears with emotion at times. Read: The concept of religion fascinates me. Dearly. In fact, I took religion courses while studying at University of Toronto. Someone once asked: “Why do you want to study such a silly topic?” At the time, I was dumbfounded. My answer today: “I don’t regret it one bit.” I only believe this knowledge has added dimension to my character.

Do you have any children? If so, how have they influenced your writing?

No, I don’t have any little ones yet. I’m not sure if I ever will. I can’t seem to make up my mind! However, like religion, children fascinate me. I’m always curious to know how their thoughts operate. I love how they absorb the world around them. I admire their energy. I can’t get enough of their carefree attitude. Is it any surprise that I write for
kids? (Insert laugh.) You’ll often find me gabbing or playing with some special kiddos in my life. We interact like friends. I guess I have that luxury since I don’t have to enforce rules!

In any case, I’m often told that I’m a “big kid at heart.” Being in touch with youthful innocence helps me tune into writing children’s literature. While penning “The Hijab Boutique,” I made it a point to think like Farah all the time. In the same way, an actor does to make a screenplay come to life. This is just my way of nitpicking details out of my characters.

What made you decide to write an Islamic children’s book?

This story came to me very naturally. Scene after scene, played in my head like a machine. Islam is a very beautiful, rich religion. Why wouldn’t I want to write about it?

MUSLIM ALL-STARS BOOK LAUNCH – INVITE KHALEEL MUHAMMAD TODAY

MUSLIM ALL-STARS BOOK LAUNCH! Nasheed artist and author Khaleel Muhammad has his debut children’s book MUSLIM ALL-STARS: HELPING THE POLONSKYS on sale now. In order to share Khaleel’s work with more people, we’re looking for interested mosques, madrasas, schools and institutions to help us launch his thrilling book. If you’d like to get involved in a launch, and you have a minimum of 100 children as part of your group, drop a message in Khaleel’s inbox. We already have several groups interested in inviting Khaleel to come along, sign copies of the book, take questions and hear a few of his songs in celebration of this exciting project. And if that wasn’t enough groups will get a 20% discount off the book. For us its spreading news of the books launch, for you its exposing the kids to a new book aimed at their age group and a chance to attract new members … and getting free performance from Khaleel Muhammad!!

So what are you waiting for? Contact us now: info@kubepublishing.com

To learn more about the book watch the MUSLIM ALL STARS trailer

To buy the book go to http://www.kubepublishing.com/product_info.php?products_id=76&osCsid=f3984cd48998460b6e97bf0b81eec132

Muslim All-Stars author Khaleel Muhammad speaks about his upcoming book

Greetings of peace,

Khaleel Muhammad has taken the time to talk about his upcoming book in a new video. With some examples of the development of illustrations from sketches to final line drawings too, this is worth a watch.

http://www.kubepublishing.com/product_info.php?products_id=76&osCsid=d47775b9bfddb835cd7b42c37a0d9b61

Khaleel Muhammad – singer, songwriter, storyteller… AND author!

Khaleel Muhammad has written a book for Kube Publishing called Muslim All-Stars: Helping the Polonskys. Due to publish in March 2012 his first book tells the story of an exciting new group of teenagers: Leila, Imran, Che Amran, Sumaya and Adam. Between them they want to help their local community, starting with Mr Polonsky’s house.

Don’t miss this exciting new book from Kube.

 

Recommended readers 9+

£3.99

9780860374541

Available from http://www.kubepublishing.com/product_info.php?products_id=76

 

Introducing Hassan and Aneesa

Hassan and Aneesa are two characters I would like you all to meet. Over the next few months we hope to take them on a number of trips to new and interesting places. In their first outing they visit a madrasa where they learn, listen, pray and snack, and generally have a great time.

I know their parents have in mind a trip to the masjid for Aneesa because she has yet to go. Look out for future titles, as they are fantastic books to introduce all children to these places of interest for Muslim families.

 

More poetry from Dawud Wharnsby’s ‘A Picnic of Poems’

Dawud Wharnsby, author of ‘A Picnic of Poems: In Allah’s Green Gardens’, has turned three poems from the book into videos! Go on, treat yourself and see what all the excitement is about.

Dear Mr Crow

 

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Dawud Wharnsby’s new children’s book

At Kube we have the absolute privilege to announce the impending release of Dawud Wharnsby’s new book, A Picnic of Poems, in the coming months.

To give you all a special insight, Dawud has put together this beautiful video sample.

I’ve seen it, read it and listened to one of the final songs from the FREE CD and it is, mashallah, brilliant. We’ll keep you posted and try to bring you some samples over the next few weeks.

Wasalam

Interview with Imam Munieb — founder of The Victory Boys

Salam and hello all,

Kube, under the Islamic Foundation imprint,  are releasing a book called The Victory Boys soon and we wanted to introduce you to one of its stars, Imam Munieb.

Imam Munieb with Saleem

Imam Munieb is unique. He is responsible for starting the football team, Shabab Al-Nasr, otherwise known as The Victory Boys. A very brave decision, especially considering the extent of his knowledge of ‘the beautiful game’. We have an exclusive interview with the man himself below. I’m sure you will enjoy it!

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