Saturday, September 9, 2017

Review: Salam Alaikum by Harris J

A Message of Peace
by J. Harris
Illustrated by Ward Jenkins
Salaam Reads
Picture Book 
ages 4 to 8

From “the Muslim Justin Bieber” (NPR) Harris J comes a picture book that celebrates spreading peace, love, and happiness throughout the world, using the lyrics of his international YouTube hit of the same name.

Salam Alaikum means “Peace be upon you.” It is the greeting that Muslims around the world use to say “hello” and “good-bye.” International music sensation Harris J has taken that greeting and created a call to action.

Spread peace on the earth…
Treasure the love, let it surround us
Always be kind, always remind one another
Peace on the earth every day

Using the lyrics to the hit song of the same name, and accompanied by heartwarming illustrations that depict the power of paying it forward, this sweet and charming picture book celebrates kindness and community.


Warmth and good feelings pour from every page, allowing positive attitudes to shine through.

This picture book was published in connection with and uses the lyrics of Harris J's popular song, Salam Alaikum. 

The message is crystal clear on every page--if we're nice to each other, the world will be a great place. Everyone will be happy. Smiles and caring radiate from every illustrations as the text encourages kindness and assistance. The text itself is short--only a line or two on each two-page spread--and never difficult, making it easy to read to even younger listeners. The meaning of Salam Alaikum is given in a small printed circle before the book begins. Which is too bad, since it can easily be overseen and would prove more helpful to younger listeners if repeated a few times during the book itself. The title is Salam Alaikum, but in the book, the term Assalamu Alaikum is used (the formal version), which might cause some confusion. The book gains more importance and relevance knowing that it has something to do with Harris J's song. This, however, is not really mentioned or pointed to in the book (outside of a mention in the blurb) and would carry more power if young readers could readily connect it directly to the song.

The illustrations are bright and bold, and a joy to look at. The message is clear on each picture and there are wonderful details peppered in. This gives kids a reason to explore the pages again and again as they discover things they didn't notice before. The characters are diverse and set in all types of scenes, making this a book everyone will be able to relate to somehow.

And here they are. . .

The author. . .

Harris J is a young British Muslim artist whose debut album, Salam, was released in 2015 by Awakening records. Born in Chelsea in the heart of London, Harris J is a graduate of the world-renowned BRIT School of Performing Arts and Technology in London. He considers himself a proud Muslim and a true Brit and is now looking forward to taking his new blend of faith-inspired music to the world. Find him online at, or Twitter and Facebook at @HarrisJOfficial, and on Instagram at @OfficialHarrisJ.

The Illustrator. . .

Ward Jenkins is and illustrator and animator from Atlanta, Georgia. He's illustrated several picture books, including Chicks Run Wild, as well as the Good Crooks chapter book series. Ward lives with his wife and two kids and hasn't shaved his beard since 2010. Find him online at @WardOMatic.

No comments: