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This Ramadan, Curious George Helps Friend to Fast


FILE - After 75 years of being one of America's favorite childhood icons, there is one thing Curious George has only now discovered: Ramadan.

FILE - After 75 years of being one of America's favorite childhood icons, there is one thing Curious George has only now discovered: Ramadan.

He's ridden a bike. Gotten a medal. Flown a kite. Learned the alphabet. And gone to the hospital.

But in his 75 years, there is one thing Curious George has only now discovered: Ramadan.

George's famous curiosity — which has taken him to Christmas, Hannuka and Easter celebrations since the series was started in 1941 — has now brought him to the Muslim holy month.

At a recent book signing at the Diyanet Center of America in Lanham, Maryland, Muslim children like 8-year-old Amina are overjoyed to have a popular character like George representing them.

“When I see a monkey celebrating Ramadan, and he does all this stuff, I am surprised,” Amina exclaimed.

Cover illustration of It's Ramadan, Curious George, by Pakistani-American Muslim writer Hena Khan, for Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Cover illustration of It's Ramadan, Curious George, by Pakistani-American Muslim writer Hena Khan, for Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

It’s Ramadan, Curious George, by Pakistani-American Muslim writer Hena Khan, finds George baking treats for late night feasts and helping his friend Kareem fast throughout the day by keeping him busy with games. Amid the peaceful sound of evening prayers, George breaks his fast by snacking on a sweet date. Later at the mosque, the famed monkey helps the imam prepare food baskets and a clothing drive for people in need.

After a whole month of daily prayers, hungers pangs, iftar and giving alms, he celebrates Eid-al Fitr, marking the end of the fast.

Happy Eid! The holiday is here.
The mosque is busy and loud.
Everyone is dressed in their finest.
What a good-looking crowd!

George greets Kareem with a hug
And spends the day with his friend.
After hours of feasting and fun,
They are sad Eid has to end.

According to the Maryland-based author, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, which has published the Curious George Series for 75 years, invited her to write the book.

Hena Khan, author of 'It's Ramadan, Curious George'

Hena Khan, author of 'It's Ramadan, Curious George'

“They found me because I had written two other books about Islam and Ramadan for kids,” Khan said. “They asked me if I would be interested in doing the book and, of course, I was overjoyed at the opportunity [to write about] such a beloved character, to introduce him to Ramadan and in turn to be able to introduce so many children to Ramadan.”

Since the book's May 2016 release, it has already been listed as an Amazon.com best-seller.

As this Ramadan comes to an end, Khan and Curious George remain busy touring the U.S. to promote the book.

At the signing in Lanham, more than 200 people, mostly children with their families, showed up for Khan's reading.

“It’s very educational and adventurous,” said Maryam, a local a mother of five. “I am really glad they brought a book about the beautiful month that we are supposed to teach our children about from very young age.

"And how they are explaining to other people, especially non-Muslims, about our special month and special festivals are.”

This report was produced in collaboration with VOA's Indonesia Service.

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