The Proudest Blue: A Story of Hijab and Family (The Proudest Blue #1)

by Ibtihaj Muhammad (Author) Hatem Aly (Illustrator)

The Proudest Blue: A Story of Hijab and Family (The Proudest Blue #1)
Reading Level: 2nd − 3rd Grade

A powerful, vibrantly illustrated story about the first day of school--and two sisters on one's first day of hijab--by Olympic medalist and social justice activist Ibtihaj Muhammad.

With her new backpack and light-up shoes, Faizah knows the first day of school is going to be special. It's the start of a brand new year and, best of all, it's her older sister Asiya's first day of hijab--a hijab of beautiful blue fabric, like the ocean waving to the sky. But not everyone sees hijab as beautiful, and in the face of hurtful, confusing words, Faizah will find new ways to be strong.

Paired with Hatem Aly's beautiful, whimsical art, Olympic medalist Ibtihaj Muhammad and Morris Award finalist S.K. Ali bring readers an uplifting, universal story of new experiences, the unbreakable bond between siblings, and of being proud of who you are.

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Publishers Weekly

Starred Review

It's the first day of school, and Faizah's older sister Asiya, a sixth grader, has started wearing hijab in a brilliant, proud shade of blue. It's "like the sky on a sunny day... special and regular" and reminds Faizah of "the ocean waving to the sky... always there, strong and friendly." When a playground bully, portrayed by Aly (the Unicorn Rescue Society series) as a smudgy silhouette, taunts Asiya ("I'm going to pull that tablecloth off your head!"), Faizah fumes, glaring at the child and looking for "whispers, laughs, and shouts." But when she sees how Asiya and her diverse friends, who share an easygoing confidence, dismiss the bully and get on with their fun, her sense of what's "regular" is both restored and expanded. Hijabi U.S. Olympian Muhammad and YA author Ali (Love from A to Z) have created a lovely blend of emotional lyricism and closely observed everyday life. And Aly's digitally enhanced ink and pencil scenes alternate between dreamy meditations of strength and empowerment, and snapshots of two sisters who are very much in the world--and mean the world to each other. Ages 4-8. Authors' agents: Greg Ferguson, Full Fathom Five (for Muhammad) and John Cusick, Folio Jr. (for Ali). Illustrator's agent: Robbin Brosterman, the Bright Agency. (Oct.)

Copyright 2019 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.

School Library Journal

Starred Review

K-Gr 4—Faizah is excited for her first day of school but even more excited for her older sister, Asiya. Asiya is starting sixth grade with her brand-new blue hijab. As Faizah walks to the school in her new light-up shoes and backpack, she admires her sister who looks like a princess in her blue head scarf. At school, some students celebrate with her, some are ambivalent, and some faceless, nameless characters taunt her. Their mother has prepared the girls with wise words. When the kids in the school bully Asiya, she remembers her mother's advice to not carry hurtful words as "they are not yours to keep. They belong only to those who said them." The illustration and the colors are just as powerful as words conveying the passionate message of how to be proud of one's culture, individuality, and religion and how to stay strong and keep one's faith. This is an empowering book for young readers who can see themselves in Asiya or know someone like her. The touching and celebratory illustrations complement the quiet strength of Asiya as she steps into a beautiful and celebrated coming-of-age rite. VERDICT This excellent story about identity, visibility, and confidence, touches on rites of passage, bonds between sisters, and bullying and is unapologetic in tackling misconceptions and demanding equality.—Noureen Qadir-Jafar, Syosset Library, NY

Copyright 2019 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

Ibtihaj Muhammad
Ibtihaj Muhammad is a fencer and the first Muslim American woman in hijab to compete for the United States in the Olympic Games. She is also the first female Muslim American to medal at the Olympic Games, winning bronze in the women's saber team event. An activist, speaker, and entrepreneur, Ibtihaj has written a memoir, Proud, and inspired the first hijabi Barbie in her likeness. She invites you to visit her online at
S. K. Ali is the award-winning author of Saints and Misfits and Love from A to Z and the coeditor of an upcoming Eid anthology. Like Faizah and Asiya, she and her sister visited hijab shops every year before the first day of school to choose their proudest colors.

Hatem Aly is an Egyptian-born illustrator whose work has been featured on television and in multiple publications worldwide. Among other books, he illustrated Newbery Honor winning novel The Inquisitor's Tale by Adam Gidwitz. He currently lives in New Brunswick, Canada, with his wife, son, and more pets than people.
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication date
September 20, 2019
The Proudest Blue
BISAC categories
JUV039090 - Juvenile Fiction | Social Themes | New Experience
JUV035000 - Juvenile Fiction | School & Education
JUV048000 - Juvenile Fiction | Clothing & Dress
JUV039120 - Juvenile Fiction | Social Themes | Prejudice & Racism
JUV013070 - Juvenile Fiction | Family | Siblings
JUV033270 - Juvenile Fiction | Religious | Muslim
JUV039280 - Juvenile Fiction | Social Themes | Religion & Faith
Library of Congress categories
Picture books
Customs and practices
First day of school
Hijab (Islamic clothing)

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