By: Lo Humeniuk
Moondragon in the Mosque Garden, written by partners El-Farouk Khaki and Troy Jackson, is another lovely children’s book published by Flamingo Rampant. The book follows three children—Tajalli and twin cousins Mujtaba and Aasiya—during Eid as they enjoy food and festivities before going out to explore the garden. In the garden they meet Moondragon, who teaches them why and how to be more careful with their litter, and why it is important to take care of the earth.
Between the colours of the illustrations (beautifully and lushly created at the hand of Katie Commodore), the characters, and the story itself, there is life and joy in this book. As was mentioned in my previous post, Flamingo Rampant does a wonderful job of selecting titles that depict characters and people who are often underrepresented in children’s literature. In this case, authors Khaki and Jackson and illustrator Commodore have painted a picture and embodied a spirit of Eid while also sharing an important lesson for kids about environmentalism. Moondragon, a glittery purple creature, appears when the kids begin disposing of their litter in the garden to teach them about taking care of Mother Earth, and the role each creature on the earth has to play. Moondragon doesn’t lecture the children or scare them into compliance, but rather shows them how different animals do their part to keep the earth beautiful. It offers them this advice: “No one can make you give the earth your love and care. But I hope you will choose to join me and the ants and the bees.” This gentle didactic approach encourages the children to tidy up the entire garden, much to the pleasure of their families.
There are a number of children’s books around the topic of the environment, and there should be more. Teaching kids about respect for the earth should come in as easy a way as the authors of Moondragon do it. The authors—who dedicated this book to their son, who shares a name with the protagonists—create a memorable, playful teacher in the character of Moondragon. Given that the impact of environmental decision-making will be felt by generations to come, this book is both timely and poignant.
Author El-Farouk Khaki co-founded The Unity Mosque, a queer-friendly mosque serving both Muslims and non-Muslims, alongside husband and co-author Jackson and Dr. Laury Silvers in 2009. He is also the founder of Salaam, a queer Muslim support group. Among other things, Khaki is a politician, an immigration and human rights lawyer, a public speaker, and a co-owner of Glad Day Bookshop (as is Jackson). In 2016, The Advocate listed him among “21 LGBT Muslims Who Are Changing the World.”Author Troy Jackson is, among other things, a singer, songwriter, filmmaker, and performer.