While Zain’s Super Friday is not my all time favorite book, it is up there for two reasons. The first is that it has at least two layers and the second is that it deals with representation in a positive manner.
Zain is a young boy who is ready to go-go-go! on Friday morning. However, his father must work, and when he is done, it is time for prayers. We are exposed to the Muslim culture in a positive way. There is no racism, just a beautiful story about father and son and their faith. We see what they do at the mosque, the rituals, the prayers, the community that they have there. And this is also a book about patience, as Zain wants to play, (as my nephew once told me) “play play play now now now!” (that kid is now 23 and over six feet tall), but his father has things he must do, and they must wait to fight the aliens and be heroes!
Any child can relate to that aspect of the story. I enjoy stories that allow anyone to be able to relate to a theme. Even I understand the “waiting and wanting now” conundrum. I want to be at home, reading and resting. Instead I must wait until my work is done. Henna Khan created a story that is familiar and fresh.
And with Nez Riaz’s illustrations, this story comes to life. They are clever, cute, cartoonish, but not cartoony (except the drawings of Zain). They are colorful, and expressive. They are not overpowering the story, but support it. The scenes with Zain and his father preparing for jumu’ah prayers was perhaps my favorite as it shows a little kid being a little kid. And while he is “goofing around” it is something most people would do.
The afterwards helps explain why these Friday prayers are important, and more information about the faith. I read this cozy story via an online reader copy, and it is due October 2023.