Book Review: The Most Magnificent Mosque

Reading Level

Ages 4-8

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At a time when the world needs more cross-cultural communication and understanding comes a delightful little book from Frances Lincoln publishers and author Ann Jungman. Illustrated by Shelley Fowles, The Most Magnificent Mosque tells the story of three boys who put their respective religions aside in favor of friendship and fun.

The story jumps ahead in places, summarizing the lives of the boys in just a few pages, but the highlights are still there. Powerful and poignant, this is the story of three boys who stand up for togetherness and tolerance in the face of power and force. Based on a true story, this is the tale of the town of Cordoba, Spain, and its many changes in ownership and religious affiliation through the years. Rashid, a Muslim, counts as his friends Samuel, a Jew, and Miguel, a Christian. These three boys are best friends, despite the religions that they practice. No mention is made of their parents' displeasure at the boys' befriending boys of different faiths, although such displeasure would surely have been present; rather than a historical oversight, this is a deliberate attempt to stress communication and cooperation in the face of what must have been overwhelming pressure to segregate along religious lines.

The book is slim and the story short, but the message lasts a long time, especially with repeated readings. Don't miss the realistic illustrations as well, completing a picture of tolerance and understanding that we all—children and adults—would do well to emulate.

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