Farah Elmoudani is a teacher, a mother and published author of “Bilal and Mr. Shells: The Miraculous Life of Isa عليه وسلم. She shares with us her publishing journey as well as book recommendations you can add to your summer list!
R. Tell us about how you were inspired to write “Bilal and Mr. Shells?”
D. It took a few special moments during my time working with young children to be inspired to start writing Islamic children’s books. It all started approximately seven years ago when I was promoted as a lead teacher for a Montessori preschool. During our circle time, we included story time. Reading stories led to many spectacular moments for the students and me. We engaged, laughed, and smiled. The children asked questions and we turned some stories into drama plays. After moving on from the preschool to work with older students, I realized that no matter what age, children love stories, and that’s when it hit me! I thought, perhaps I can write a story that not only is educational, but fun at the same time! ٱلْحَمْدُ لِلَّٰهِ, that’s when I started working on my daft and was accepted by a wonderful publishing company, Prolance.
R.Tell us about your publishing history and journey.
D. Some may think that publishing is an easy road, but that’s not the case. In order to have your book published, the publisher has to really like your story and it has to be marketable. If you’re writing a book with pictures, you either have to be a talented illustrator, hire one, or depending on what publishing company you proceed with, they may hire one for you.
My publisher and I worked together to find an illustrator for “Bilal and Mr. Shells.” It took me a little over a year to write my Islamic children’s book and when you read it, it may appear that this book was written in less than a month. Mind you, not all writers will take a year to write their story, but I did due to the fact that I was a new mommy, I wasn’t convinced with the quality of my work and I kept revising and editing till I fell in love with it.
R. What books or authors do you like to read and recommend?
D. I enjoy anything that is educational, spooky or something that is deeply connecting. I highly recommend “Riyad-us-Saliheen” (two volumes). This book was compiled by a great scholar of Hadith and Islamic law, Imam Al Nawawi. You will find Ahadeeth along with commentaries to help you understand the meaning. Also, there is “The Bluest Eye”, one of Toni Morrison’s best-known novels published in 1970. It’s about an African-American girl named, Pecola who was consistently regarded as ugly because of her mannerisms and dark skin. Then, there is “A Hope More Powerful Than the Sea” made me cry an ocean. It’s about a refugee that battled difficult journeys that will literally pain you because of the suffering she, along with many others have encountered and still do. For children’s books, I recommend, “My First Muslim Potty Book” for all parents who want to potty train their toddlers in a manner that involves correct cleanliness. Then, there is “How Much Does Allah Love Me” for those who want to remind their children of Allah’s infinite love. Moreover, “Bedtime Sunnahs” will teach your children what to recite before bed. With “Eid Breakfast at Abuela’s,” your children will learn how another culture celebrates Eid.
R. What is it about “Bilal and Mr. Shells” that kids can relate to?
D. Kids can relate to “Bilal and Mr. Shells: The Miraculous Life of Isa” in numerous ways. The prophet in this story and the prophets in the future stories that I plan on writing إِنْ شَاءَ ٱللَّٰهُ, will teach our children more about Allah, the trials our prophets faced, patience and the way they put their trust, reliance and dedication to our Creator.
R.Where can we get this book?
R. How can we follow your journey?