Firdaus & Friends: Firdaus Learns About the Heart

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Author(s): Dr. Sara Kulsum Alavi

Illustrator(s): Aurica Safiulina

Publisher: Little Doc Books

Year: 2021

Topics: STEM, Human Body

Description: 

Presenting Firdaus & Friends – A brand new Muslim children’s science series. Join Firdaus on a fun-filled science adventure!

Firdaus goes to Medina Academy and she loves science class. Her teacher, Mrs. Ahmed, makes science exciting and easy to understand with diagrams, class experiments, activities, and fun facts. One night, Firdaus meets Rubbab and Wahhab, two blood cells, and joins them on a journey into the human body. During her many adventures, Firdaus meets new friends, travels through different organs in the body, and most importantly, learns what it means to have a good heart.

Features:

  • * Adorable and diverse Muslim characters
  • * Background story that emphasizes kindness, charity, and Islamic values
  • * Experiments and activities to engage your child
  • * Bright and fun illustrations
  • * Heart anatomy made easy for young readers
  • * Great homeschooling resource
  • * Recommended for 4th grade and above

Brief Synopsis: 

It’s a part fiction- part nonfiction book about the heart, where two stories are happening simultaneously. We follow Firdaus’s day at school with a focus on what she’s learning during science class (followed by one good deed of the day). However, at night she dreams of an adventure with Rubab the red blood cell and Wahab the white blood cell and their journey to the heart. 

The story starts with Firdaus’s first day of school and an introduction to her classmates. The non-fiction science part introduces the reader to cells, tissues and organs and a basic overview of what the heart does with a focus on what blood cells are. This is followed by 4 short activities of matching, mazes, drawing, and solving a code. It ends with an experiment on heart rate. That night Firdaus dreams about meeting Rubab and Wahab reinforcing the concept of blood cells for the reader.

The next day the story continues at school, where one of the kids gets hurt and bleeds. Next they talk about blood and other constituents of blood like plasma, and platelets followed by a pretty great experiment that represents how platelets work to stop bleeding. 

Then there’s a fact page about how cells need energy including oxygen and glucose followed by an experiment to show how cells use energy. The story continues with a good deed Firdaus does during the day with her grandmother. This is followed by part 2 of the Rubab and Wahab dream storyline where they get on a ship and enter the human body through the nose to the lungs. This is followed by another maze activity.  

The next day at school, Firdaus learns about blood vessels and circulation. This is followed by a facts page on how the heart works. After that the author has included an experiment that helps kids understand how high cholesterol can block the heart. Firdaus’s story continues at home where she does a good deed at dinner time for her mom. That night we see part 3 of her dream and are introduced to a new character – Omer the oxygen. Firdaus, Rubab and Wahab help Omer navigate the heart chambers to his destination.

The next day Firdaus learns that she needs to prepare a presentation for the class which is followed by her helping her brother (good deed). A maze activity is next. The story ends with Firdaus’s presentation in which she summarizes all the important aspects of the heart and adds an important take away message.

Why I like it: 

  • Each concept got revised four times in four unique ways – through what Firdaus learnt during school/fact page, through an experiment, through her dream, and then briefly in her presentation at the end. 
  • My favorite thing by far is the story of Rubab and Wahab. Their dialogue and general interaction with each other brings humor to the topic. The author also incorporated Alice in Wonderland vibes (ie- little Omer Oxygen “being late”, shrinking and growing powders, etc.) Plus it has so many nerdy details like the “Vitamin Seas” ship. And I LOVEEEE the illustration on page 37. I for one would love to see a mini animation of Firdaus’s adventure with Rubab and Wahab navigating the heart!
  • I also liked how the shrinking powder was called Sagheer (meaning small in Arabic) and the growing powder was Jabbar (meaning giant in Arabic). I liked that the author also used unique names like Burhan. Every time my kids can’t pronounce a name, it makes me realize why representation of Islamic names/characters in books is so important!!
  • The characters are Muslim, and phrases like Assalamualaykum and Insha’Allah, have also been used.
  • The class at Medina School is culturally diverse and the names of students also represent different ethnicities (for example Jehan Mahmoud, Bilal Jones, Leila Asgher, Humza Chen, Yuki Hayama, Mariam Rehman, Ismail Omarov etc). Also the organs are really cute!!
  • The “good deeds” were also diverse. The first one was being kind to a new girl, making cookies to donate to a masjid bake sale, sharing her ice-ceam with her mother who had accidentally dropped hers, encouraging and helping her brother with homework.
  • Lol I appreciated the class frog being “Dud-do” and the goldfish named “Mach-lee”. Those who speak Urdu would know these! Also Firdaus calls her grandmother Naano. They’ve included Khuda Hafiz which is a form of ‘goodbye’ mostly said in South East Asia
  • In addition to the anatomy of the heart, the author focuses on Firdaus “having a good heart” and what that means. When she does good deeds for a new girl and her family members, they all tell Firdaus that she “has a good heart”. She uses this as the main part of her presentation at the end. “ A person with a good heart is someone who is friendly, generous and benefits everyone around them. A good person, like the heart in the body, is essential to his or her community, because that person works hard, helps others, connects people, and benefits everyone around them” – Such a great take away message you won’t find in contemporary science books! 
  • The scientific analogies are good and make it easier for kids to understand. For example the cell-tissue-organ-body relationship is compared to city-state-country-continent-world.
  • The experiments are easy to do and really help with understanding the concept. There’s also a few fun activities but I wish they were included as separate pintables. (I don’t want the kids writing in such a pretty book!!)
  • The book includes a parents and teachers tip which I agree with 100%

Additional Activities: 

  • There’s an experiment mentioned with every section!
  • The words in bold can be used in anchor charts.
  • Draw different organs of the body, and talk about the different functions they have. Then have your child come up with their own creative names for them as if they were characters.
  • Come up with a list of activities that you and your child can do together to help your community and have “a good heart”.

Pinterest Board: click here

Overall: 

It’s a part fiction- part nonfiction book about the heart, where two stories are happening simultaneously. We follow Firdous’s day at school with a focus on what she’s learning during science class (followed by one good deed of the day). However, at night she dreams of an adventure with Rubab the red blood cell and Wahab the white blood cell and their journey to the heart. The book also has pages with scientific facts and analogies, and related fun activities!

It’s a very unique book and an awesome supplement to your child’s Human Body Unit – whether your child goes to public school or you homeschool! It incorporates anatomical and physiological information of the heart as an organ, with an exciting story and Islamic values! 

This is intended for kiddos in grade 4 to grade 6. However, if your younger child enjoys shows like “The Magic School Bus” and “Sid the Science Kid” they will enjoy this book as early as Preschool! Just remember to go slow so they can truly absorb the various aspects of the heart!

I truly look forward to the next book!

Other reviews: 

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