Habibi, by Criag Thompson

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Habibi, by Craig Thompson

Here's a review of a graphic novel to kick things off. And let me just say--Whoa.

I've read Craig Thompson's critically-praised earlier works, and if I were to use one word to describe Goodbye, Chunky Rice it would be "bittersweet". Blankets would be "loss." If I were to use one word to describe Habibi it would be "epic."

Actually, I might throw "tragedy" in there, too.

Set in a fictional middle-eastern Islamic country, this story has everything: child brides, slavery, prophetic visions, institutional misogyny and racism, water as a symbol of environmentalism, a harem... A lot of bad stuff goes down, but the author is very careful to never judge the Muslim worldview by which everyone is governed.

Equal to the scope of this book is the author's creative vision. Arabic calligraphy, magic squares, and the intricate abstract illuminations (necessary to the Muslim faith because representational art is considered idolatry) are all absolutely integral to the story-- all visual components, which move the narrative forward. The book itself is 665 pages with amazing art on every page. The author must have learned Arabic to write this, and obvious immersed himself in the Koran and Islamic tradition--nothing in the text gives away he grew up as a church-going kid in rural Michigan.

In the end, these broken characters have faith that water (and gnostic-like purity) will be their deliverance, and their ultimate redemption will be through loving Allah without the reward of heaven or the punishment of hell. As a Christian, I have faith that not water, but blood will save, and that the shed blood is evidence that a mighty God went through hell to love ME.

What a difference. This graphic novel is an amazing glimpse into an altogether foreign worldview which makes me so thankful for my own.

one more...

Thursday, January 12, 2012

I just knew I'd forget one...

When I wrote Christmas Roundup: Children's books I had a feeling I was forgetting one. And I was. It was an impulse purchase at a local shop, and it was so beautiful I bought it right away. At full price! It's that good.

5. One Starry Night, by Lauren Thompson and Jonathan Bean

Like the rest of the books on my list, it has simple words and beautiful pictures that add up to a moving book for little people. And their parents, too. In a simple poem, animals are described loving and protecting their babies, and then Mary and Joseph are shown loving their newborn baby, Jesus. A loving book that is just ... lovely.

 Image and blogged here

Christmas Roundup: Children's books

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

I'm not posting this 3 weeks late. I'm posting this 49 weeks early!

Actually I'm just very forgetful and I know if I tucked this post away until December, it would never happen. So, I'm sending out into the internet a few of the titles that my children and I greatly enjoyed this past Advent season, and hope that you will enjoy them in the upcoming year.

1. Peter Spier's Christmas.

A wordless, beautifully illustrated story of a family's entire Christmas experience. It kept my children transfixed, and I think it was especially helpful for my two year old, to help her know what to expect during the Christmas season.

 images sourced and blogged here

2. Silent Night, illustrated by Susan Jeffers

If the classic carol wasn't already beautiful enough, Susan Jeffers' evocative illustrations give even more.

3. Song of the Stars: A Christmas Story, by Sally Lloyd Jones

My mom gave this to my girls for Christmas. Especially great for my four-year-old who loves animals, and I get goosebumps when I read it.

4. The Little Drummer Boy by Ezra Jack Keats

Confession: this book was due back at the library last week, but we're still reading it nightly to my two year old. I think she relates to the young boy seeing the adults worship in a manner beyond him, but wanting to honor King Jesus too. Plus, she likes singing the drum sounds while I read it.

Merry Christmas, everyone! :c)

P.S. I'm still looking for a good age-appropriate book about Saint Nicholas. Leave a comment if you have any recommendations!

P.P.S. Oops, I forgot one! Blogged here.


Wednesday, January 4, 2012

I, Rachel, being of middling health and (debatable) sound mind, do solemnly swear to blog every book I read in 2012, even if it is only one sentence, reveal my opinion, my whole opinion, and nothing but my opinion, to have and to hold from this day forward and until at least the following year.