Adam, a young Muslim boy, accompanies his parents to the crowded Eastern Market in Detroit but gets separated from them. He goes up to a number of strangers, mistaking them for his mother and father, because they have similar clothes or a similar skin color. Adam has brown skin. His mother does as well, and is wearing a blue hijab. His father has lighter skin and is wearing a Kufi (a brimless, short, rounded cap) and traditional tunic common to the Indian sub-continent. But at this diverse market, there are many people who are dressed like that.
For example, a nun’s habit looks similar to his mother’s garb, as does the costume of an African woman in a kanga. A Jewish man wearing a yarmulke reminds him of his father. Representatives of other cultures are all over the market, although their costumes are not identified in the book.
Most of the story is conveyed by illustrator Mercé Tous, since the book only has 13 words. But Adam’s increasing panic is clear, as is the growing concern by the others he approaches. When Adam is finally reunited with his parents, all the adults happily come together and introduce themselves to each other.
An Afterword called “Becoming a Cultural Detective” encourages kids to ask questions “respectfully and kindly” to learn more about the dress and culture of others. The author suggests, “When we recognize our similarities and differences, using kindness as a guide, we can all thrive in this world we share.”
Evaluation: Because this book is nearly wordless, it would be great for a younger audience (suggested age is 3-9) who can be encouraged to guess what they think the characters are thinking and feeling. Older readers might want to explore more about the different cultures and clothing shown. Readers of all ages will get the message that we are all more alike than different.
Published by Sleeping Bear Press, 2019