Power Forward by Hena Khan

Zayd’s dream of playing basketball on his school’s A-team clashes with his Muslim family’s goals for him.  Ages 6-10

Power Forward (Zayd Saleem, Chasing the Dream #1) by Hena Khan.  Simon & Shuster, 2018, 126 pages.

Reading Level: Chapter Book, ages 7-9

Recommended for: Ages 6-10

Meet Zayd, a third-generation Pakistani-American with a loving Muslim family and a passion for basketball.  Unfortunately his ambition for getting on the A team clashes with his mother’s desire that he pursue his talent for the violin.  Zayd’s ambitions are more in line with the typical American fifth-grader but his close-knit, traditional-minded family makes it a little horder to follow all the typical American fifth-grade pastimes.  His uncle Jamal is on his side, even though Jamal is charting some traditional paths as well–namely, finding with a wife.

The plot of this likeable chapter book is standard, but told with humor and warmth.  The glimpse into a Muslim family life (as American as apple pie and paratha) will expand a reader’s perceptions of different cultures.  Aside from a language caution (see below), it’s good choice for sports-lovers, boys, and reluctant readers.  Volume #2 in the series, On Point, is also available.

Cautions: Language (two misuses of God’s name by teenage sister Zara)

Overall Rating: 3.75 (out of 5)

  • Worldview/moral value: 3.5
  • Artistic value: 4


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Janie is the VERY senior staff writer for Redeemed Reader, as well as a long-time contributor to WORLD Magazine and an author of nine books for children. The rest of the time she's long-distance smooching on her four grandchildren (not an easy task). She lives with her equally senior husband of almost-fifty years in the Ozarks of Missouri.

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