By Ardo Omer
This month we’re highlighting books featuring letters by an author from a marginalized community. In the three books we’ve chosen, there is quite the range on how letters are used. In Yo Soy Muslim, the entire picture book is a father’s letter to his daughter in which he encourages his child “to find joy and pride in all aspects of their multicultural identity”. In the young adult novel, Letters from Johnny, Johnny writes to hockey legend Dave Keon to make sense of the intense things going on around and in his life. In middle grade novel, The Secret Diary of Mona Hasan, features letters among other things (lists, poems) in her diary that documents a year in her life that involves immigrating to Canada. Hopefully these books can inspire some letter writing in you!
From Muslim and Latino poet Mark Gonzales comes a touching and lyrical picture book about a parent who encourages their child to find joy and pride in all aspects of their multicultural identity.
Dear little one,
…know you are wondrous.
A child of crescent moons,
a builder of mosques,
a descendant of brilliance,
an ancestor in training.
Written as a letter from a father to his daughter, Yo Soy Muslim is a celebration of social harmony and multicultural identities. The vivid and elegant verse, accompanied by magical and vibrant illustrations, highlights the diversity of the Muslim community as well as Indigenous identity. A literary journey of discovery and wonder, Yo Soy Muslim is sure to inspire adults and children alike.
Mona learns to find her voice over the course of a year that sees her immigrating from Dubai to Canada in this novel for fans of Front Desk by Kelly Yang. Now in paperback!
Mona Hasan is a young Muslim girl growing up in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, when the first Gulf War breaks out in 1991. The war isn’t what she expects — “We didn’t even get any days off school! Just my luck” — especially when the ground offensive is over so quickly and her family peels the masking tape off their windows. Her parents, however, fear there is no peace in the region, and it sparks a major change in their lives.
Over the course of one year, Mona falls in love, speaks up to protect her younger sister, loses her best friend to the new girl at school, has summer adventures with her cousins in Pakistan, immigrates to Canada, and pursues her ambition to be a feminist and a poet.
A charming coming of age story wrapped around a murder, a betrayal and a national crisis.
Eleven-year-old Johnny tries to make sense of a murder, an absent father, and the FLQ Crisis through heart and humour-filled letters to hockey legend Dave Keon.
Dripping with nostalgia and awash with humour, Letters From Johnny is set in 1970’s Toronto through the eyes of mischievous Johnny Wong, a lonely boy who tries to stickhandle a neighbourhood of immigrants and draft dodgers. Johnny’s world unravels after a murder, a betrayal, and the unexpected emergence of a family member, all this as he tries to make sense of the FLQ crisis. His only solace are letters to a penpal, then to Dave Keon, captain of the Toronto Maple Leafs.