Nabeel’s New Pants


Retold by Fawzia Gilani-Williams, illustrated by Prioti Roy,
Nabeel’s New Pants: An Eid Tale
Marshall Cavendish Children, 2010.

Ages: 4–8

In this lovely cumulative tale, after a very busy day selling shoes at his shop, a shoemaker named Nabeel goes out shopping for gifts for his family. They will be celebrating Eid the next day, the holiday that marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan, and he wants to give each one of them something new to wear for the festivities.

Prioti Roy’s (What Shall We Make?) bright pen and ink illustrations show Nabeel selecting aburqa for his wife, a dupatta (wraparound scarf) for his mother, some bangles for his daughter. Upon noticing his patched pants, Hamza, the shopkeeper, suggests Nabeel treats himself to a new pair. The only pair available is four fingers too long, and Hamza can’t shorten them because he must close the shop to get ready for Eid. Nabeel buys the pants anyway, convinced that having them shortened won’t be a problem.

At home Nabeel hands out, one by one, the gifts he’s bought. He is thanked and, in turn, is asked if he’s picked something new for himself to wear. He tells each of them, separately, about the pair of pants and how they need to be shortened by four fingers. “Could you shorten them for me?” he asks one after another. And one after another they gently say no. There’s much to do to prepare for Eid: the biryani, sheerkorma and samosas need to be cooked, the baby needs to be tended to… There just isn’t enough time.

In true cumulative-story fashion, Nabeel’s interaction with each family member represents a link in the chain of events narrated. Little ones will be excited to find out what’s next and anxious to learn how Nabeel’s quest to have his pants shortened finally ends.

Underlying this delightful story, which makes for a perfect read-aloud, is a reminder of the real significance of Eid: it isn’t about what you wear, after all.

A glossary of Arabic words is included.


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