~posted by Ruth
The Perfect Flower Girl by Tahgred Chandab, illustrated by Binny Talib
Another book from the far-away continent of Australia, but this time dealing with a Lebanese-Muslim family living there. It’s a surprising book–first, of course, it’s a reminder of the diversity around the world and immigrant families in many different cultures. In this case, the little girls in the story are excited about being flower girls, and share the weeks leading up to the big event. A traditional Muslim wedding would not include flower girls, bridesmaids, or groomsmen; in fact, the women and men are often segregated in these ceremonies. But this Lebanese-Australian family embraces other cultural influences. I wasn’t sure if the story would connect for young readers, and tested it out with 5-year-old Molly over the winter break.
Well, she loved it and requested (demanded) multiple readings. I found her poring over the illustrations on her own when we weren’t available to read every page–again. She loved the simple tale of Amani, practicing to be “the perfect flower girl,” leading the bride and groom down the aisle. Molly could identify with the hustle and bustle of family gatherings as Tayta, Amani’s grandmother, cooks and cleans, and fusses, and as Amani and her sister Miriam go to the dressmaker with their big sister, and plans with her family for the big event. There is some drama at the end as Amani must overcome some obstacles and “save the day” as flower girl, not in the way she had intended. The illustrations are very different–stylized and almost “Hello Kitty” ish, with big eyes and cartoon-like expressions. But there is a charming quality to the book, and with Molly’s clear stamp of approval, I recommend it.