Abdul’s story reminds us that oral language serves as a bridge to fluency in reading and writing, thinking, and learning. This 40-page brightly illustrated picture book will make any educator’s heart feel the compassion, empathy, and hope for Abdul. His passion for telling stories shines through as he attempts to share his experiences with his classmates. Abdul starts feeling that he is not a good writer like his peers. He struggles to put letters correctly as he has to overcome the ordeal of fixing the tricky b’s & d’s and finding the right place for the silent-e. In the process of making it perfect, he endlessly attempts and endlessly erases until his paper gets an opening in it. He loses trust in himself as a writer and feels that his words are not worthy to be written in books.
However, his faith in being a writer was restored when a charismatic visiting writer, Mr. Muhammad arrives in school. Mr. Muhammad writes stories about people and places familiar to him and inspires budding writers who look like him. Abdul starts to write more especially after seeing Mr. Muhammad’s messy notebook. His words “I get messy words out so good words can come too” motivate Abdul and he starts to see the writer in him once again. He gives himself permission to make mistakes and that’s when his chain of thoughts flows. It is heartening to see how Mr. Muhammad’s words of encouragement affirm Abdul’s belief that his experiences are worthy of finding a place in stories and worthy of being recorded and shared.
As a writing teacher of over 2 decades, I feel that this book is a good reminder to all my students to silence their inner critics. Your inner critics are lying to you as they want you to fail backwards and not fail forward. When a student fails forward, we are teaching them not to be afraid of making mistakes and to have the courage to keep going even after we have made many mistakes. Every classroom bookshelf needs this book; children need to hear it, read it, and explore the pages in this book. Alhamdulillah!