Once Upon an Eid is the #ownvoices anthology you need on your shelf!
This book came out on May 5th, 2020, and is the perfect book for elementary and middle school readers. It’s a collection of short stories edited by S.K. Ali and Aisha Saeed.
In Islam, there are two eids: Eid-ul-Fitr, the feast to mark the end of Ramadan, and Eid -ul- Adha “the festival of sacrifice.”
Here’s an excerpt from S.K. Ali’s short story “Don’ut Break Tradition.”
It’s Eid, but it doesn’t feel like Eid. I’m wearing pajamas, the house is empty (except for Mama, who’s sleeping), and if you look around and check in with all your senses, there’s nothing to tell you today’s a special day. No delicious smells coming from the kitchen, no colorful balloon bundles in room corners, no music playing from the stereo system. There’s no happiness in the air. I want to go back to bed. But I can’t, because I’m waiting for Mama to wake up and need me. What makes a day special? What I mean is, what makes a special day special? Today just feels like a day I don’t have to go to school because my parents said so.
Because they told me it’s a special day. But so far it’s been the opposite—an un-special day. Which is worse than a regular, normal day, when you think about it. Tons worse, because my brain shows me all the things I should be doing today. The things we did every Eid before happiness left the house. My bed calls me to climb back into it, so I force myself to go to the bathroom to wash my face and brush my teeth. I can try to pretend it’s a boring regular day, at least. I look at myself in the bathroom mirror. Maybe it’s because I’m wearing pajamas, not fancy Eid clothes.
Maybe that’s why my face looks exactly the way I feel inside. Like all of me is getting squished and pushed into a small empty space I didn’t know was there. I can wear last year’s Eid clothes from when I was ten. I still fit into the dress. Except for the way the sleeves don’t reach all the way to my wrists. And okay, when I tried it on yesterday, the neck was pinchy. But last year’s velvet dress is my favorite color — almost-black purple — and I know exactly where to find the dark tights that match it. (In the suitcase by the solarium window.) But I don’t change into Eid clothes. Instead I check on Mama (still sleeping), pull on jeans, put on a coat, and run out of the house.
Because all of a sudden, I remembered something special. Really special. Donuts.
The donuts at Mr. Laidlaw’s Bakery aren’t like other donuts. That’s what people say to each other. “Laidlaw’s donuts? They’re not like other donuts.”
The next sentence is different for different people.
And then my dad: “They’re mystical.”
Each story centers around different characters, and also discusses what it is like for young Shia Muslims. The representation in this story is phenomenal, and I love the fact that many of my favorite authors contributed to this anthology. Additionally, this book is good for anyone who is a fan of any of the 13 authors who contributed, to include G. Willow Wilson, N.H. Senzai, Hena Khan, Hanna Alkaf, Ashley Franklin, Randa Abdel-Fattah, Candice Montgomery, Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow, Asmaa Hussein, Huda Al-Marashi, Sara Alfageeh, Ayesha Mattu, and Rukhsana Khan. It’s honestly a book that I would recommend to almost anyone!