The Proudest Blue


It’s Faizah’s first day at school. She’s ready with a ‘new backpack’ and ‘new light-up shoes’. Yet the day is a first for Asiya, Faizah’s big sister, for she’s wearing her hijab for the first time. ‘Are you excited? About the first day of hijab’ Faizah asks .

Asiya’s chosen a hijab of The Proudest Blue that’s ‘like the sky on a sunny day‘. Faizah and Asiya know that this first day is significant for it means being strong. Both girls deal with the laughter, mockery and ignorance of their playgrounds. Yet Faizah considers ‘Asiya’s hijab is like the ocean waving to the sky.‘ How will Asiya and Faizah face off the hurtful words? Will their friends support them? Will they remember Mama’s wise words?

What a rich, important and empathic picture book. Alongside the strength of the text, are colour and image symbolic pictures.  Hatem Aly offers full portrait pictures of Asiya and heavenly positive thoughts from Faizah. The doubters are shown as black smudges. For reasons we understand, Faizah’s first day of school is less important to her than Asiya’s debut wearing hijab. It’s a marker of The Proudest Blue. 


The Proudest Blue

Ibtihaj Muhammad with S.K. Ali, art by Hatem Aly

(Andersen Press)

The Proudest Blue is the choice for Asiya’s hijab for this ‘isn’t a whisper. ‘Asiya’s hijab is like the sky on a sunny day‘. Mama has told the girls that the ‘first day of wearing hijab is important/ It means being strong.‘ Therefore, Asiya’s little sister is focused on her sister’s day, more than her first day of school. Although she has ‘a new backpack, new light-up shoes’ and feels ‘like twirling’ her thoughts are on Asiya. She gives her sister a curtsy when she leaves her at her classroom door. When her classmates ask Faizah about Asiya’s hijab she is proud despite the whisper. When a boy points and laughs at Asiya, Faizah recalls Mama’s words, ‘if you understand who you are, one day they will too.’ Faizah determines to show her pride in the picture she draws.
What a proud, magnificent, rich and informative picture book! We feel Faizah’s curiosity and pride in her sister, and Asiya’s strength against her self-awareness. The words are strong and knowing, while Hatem Aly’s illustrations are colour rich, imaginative and glorious. Picture books like The Proudest Blue, alongside Young, Gifted and Black and A Different Pond educate and celebrate our truths, differences and community.


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