Hijabi girl by Hazel Edwards and Ozge Alkan
Ill. by Serena Geddes. Bookpod, 2016. ISBN 9780994358356
(Age: 7-9) Recommended. Children's librarian Ozge Alkan collaborated with Hazel Edwards to write a junior novel with the main character, a spirited eight-year-old Muslim girl. Melek's dream is to have her own Aussie Rules football team and of course to be the best player in the world. When she helps new student Tien on her first day of school, Melek remembers how difficult it was for her, especially all the jokes about her hijab. Was it a towel, did she have cancer or was she bald under the scarf?
Their classroom is a wonderful learning environment 'a doing kind of place', with science project models, a Rainbow Reading Chair and colourful encouraging posters. Of course, there is one student at Melek and her friend Lily's table who loves to cause problems. While Miss is writing an A-Z of positive characteristics on the board, Zac's pet rat escapes from his bag, but Rattus Rattus is soon captured and returned to his bag. After Tien's introduction to her new class, she is seated at the blue table with Melek, Lily and Zac. Her special skill is drawing, sketching and blending colours from her large collection of coloured pencils.
At the end of the day, their teacher announces the Book Parade scheduled for Friday and all her students are to dress up; they may even win the Best Dressed Class Award. Together Melek and Tien plan to write and illustrate a new book - 'Super hijabi girl plays Aussie Rules Football'. Melek's mother is a tailor who makes super hijabi scarves, which have many uses as butterfly wings, flags or capes.
The authors have written an easy to read junior novel that explores friendships, the respect of cultural differences and religions, creative problem solving and the importance of having goals in life. Discussion notes and activities are available. Hijabi girl is a fabulous resource for classes to learn about social inclusion, celebrate diversity and to explore our multicultural society.