top of page
Search

In the Purple Veil of Twilight with Natasha Khan Kazi

Natasha Khan Kazi shares Moon's Ramadan, a debut picture book and modern holiday classic capturing the magic and meaning of one of the world's most joyful and important celebrations.

BOOK DESCRIPTION

NOTABLE QUOTES

ADDITIONAL LINKS

TALK ABOUT THE EPISODE

CREDITS

AFFILATE LINK DISCLAIMER


Listen along:


FULL TRANSCRIPT:


[2:19] Introduction


Matthew: Welcome to the Children’s Book Podcast. I’m Matthew.


I am a teacher, a librarian, and a fan of kids. Today, we are looking up at the moon. We are looking around to our Muslim friends. We are looking ahead to Ramadan. And we are looking out for acts of kindness and opportunities for us to act out of kindness as well.


Our guest today is Natasha Khan Kazi.


Natasha was born in Dhaka, Bangladesh, raised in Chittagong, Texas, Pennsylvania, and Virginia, and now lives in Southern California, where she writes and illustrates books for young readers. Her creative work is rooted in empathy, diversity, and childhood joy. Natasha is the blogger behind IslamiMommy, where she shares ways to honor Islam through arts & crafts.



[3:25] Book Summary


Matthew: Moon's Ramadan by Natasha Khan Kazi


With radiant and welcoming art, this debut picture book and modern holiday classic captures the magic and meaning of one of the world's most joyful and important celebrations.


It's Ramadan, the month of peace, and Moon watches over Ramadan traditions with excitement and longing in this sweetly illustrated debut.


In Egypt, India, Argentina and the United Arab Emirates, in Somalia, New Zealand and Indonesia, in Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States, children and their families do good deeds in honor of those who have less.


Cleverly blending glimpses of different countries' celebrations with the corresponding phases of the moon, Moon's Ramadan makes Ramadan, one of the world's most widely celebrated traditions, accessible and exciting for all readers.



[4:31] Meet Our Guest: Katasha Khan Kazi


Natasha: My name is Natasha Khan Kazi. I am the author and illustrator of Moon's Ramadan. My pronouns are she and her.


I was born in Bangladesh and raised in Texas, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. And I currently live in Los Angeles, which is the traditional lens of the Tongva people. So I'm excited to be here. Thank you.


[4:56] What is Ramadan?


Matthew: Before we go any further, I want to stop and check on you. If you are a listener who observes Ramadan, can you give a smile?


Look at those smiles. Hi.


If you are a listener who does not observe Ramadan or, perhaps, doesn’t know what Ramadan is, can you point a finger to your brain?


Yes. I’m glad you’re thinking about it.


Today I’m joined by my very favorite 7 year old who just happens to be my daughter. Julia, do you know what Ramadan is?


Julia: I’ve never heard of Ramadan. What is it?


Matthew: Ramadan is a period of time observed by Muslims each year. There are 1.8 billion Muslims globally. And Islam, the religion practiced by Muslims, is the second-largest religion in the world.


Natasha Khan Kazi describes it this way.


Natasha: The month of Ramadan is the most important time of year for Muslims around the world. It's a time for self-reflection, and renewing spirits. Um, and that's through doing acts of kindness and good deeds.


And it's also, if you're old enough and healthy enough, um, it means fasting. And fasting is when you're abstaining from food and. From sunrise to sunset, but it also means abstaining from bad habits, like, maybe, gossiping or talking unkindly to people.


The way Ramadan feels is totally dependent on where you are in the world. But some things are consistent like there's a lot of sparkly things. Homes are sparkling inside and outside. Families are sharing meals together, so being able to feed others is a big part, is a really big deal in Ramadan, the act of feeding another person. And so homes smell like fried food and sweet drinks and all kinds of deliciousness.


And it also feels light because everyone's on their best behavior, hopefully, and trying to be kind and trying to be patient.



[7:04] Your Love Language


Matthew: People around the world observe traditions of being together, of being grateful, and of being selfless. Often, the things we like most about these traditions are how they make us feel.


For Natasha, the feelings are centered around food and the hands that prepare it.


Natasha: You know, I think that the cooks in our family, um, they're really highlighted doing Ramadan because it's so much about Iftar, which is the meal to break the fast.

And so I have so many memories of my grandmother, my grand, my, well, not my, my grandmother's on both sides, my mother, and my dad also loves to cook, too. So just seeing them, like, savor that moment and serve the food.


And it's funny, you would think, if you fasted all day, everyone would be like devouring things, but there's actually a patience that comes that, like, “Oh, you know what? We did this together. We're thankful in this moment.” And it's all about feeding the other person first. So I think it's those little small things that make it so special for me.


Matthew: There’s actually another chef in the house that Natasha didn’t mention yet.


Natasha: My youngest son is also like, his dream is to be a chef, so I love being able to pass down these family recipes and also see him like, he's seven, so seeing him, like…


Matthew: Seven!


Natasha: Yeah, I know. Already know what you wanna do. But, seeing him serve his family and, like, really love that time is, like, really special.


Matthew: Natasha, my seven year old is an artist. And maybe, like your son, you can…

I am witnessing her just pouring everything into art.


Natasha: That's so beautiful.


Matthew: Her love language is art. When she wants to thank someone if… I often joke that if you come hang out with us. Just come visit, even on the porch saying “Hi” for 30 minutes, she'll draw something for you before you leave.


It's just sort of the way that she expresses herself. It's beautiful. I don't know where it comes from, um, but it must have been nurtured somehow. But…


Natasha: I mean, I think it's in her DNA. There's, you know, there's somebody, there's somebody in your family lineage that has passed that down.


And it's funny you say love language cuz that's definitely his, like his love language is telling you what he loves about the dish you made in detail. . It's so sweet.


Matthew: Oh, what a gift that he can give that! Wow! That's very sweet.



[9:41] Feeling Proud To Be Muslim, Feeling Proud To Support Your Friends


Matthew: Let’s stick with this special kid for a moment because one of the things that lead Natasha to create Moon’s Ramadan was being invited to share Ramadan in a classroom.


Natasha: When my son started preschool, I wanted him to feel proud of his identity. So I asked his teacher if we could share a Ramadan in the classroom. And the teacher was amazing and said, “Of course!” And we had this presentation.


And it was, like, one of the top three best experiences in my life because small children are so… They're so open-minded. They're so honest. And they felt the joy that our family felt. And they like, they just met us there in that place of joy.


And I, I love that quality about small kids because they just inherently want to be a good friend. There's no other motivation for them. And yes, my son felt very proud in that moment.


So when I wrote and illustrated this book, I really hoped that other Muslim kids would feel proud, but I also wanted their friends, um, to support them and be even better friends.



[10:54] BREAK



[11:21] Ramadan Around the World


Matthew: Does Ramadan look different from country to country, household to household? Natasha’s art in Moon’s Ramadan depicts kids, families, and communities in countries across the globe. And so I asked her.


Natasha: So, it's actually a great question cuz I've had kids ask me, like, “Oh, why do you celebrate Arabic traditions when you're not from that part of the world?” So, it's actually a great question. And yes, the answer is: Absolutely. The traditions are different.


The first ever Ramadan was celebrated in the city of Medina, which is in current Saudi Arabia. But fast forward thousands of years, there are so many new traditions and some of them are highlighted in the book, such as the Ramadan drummer in Turkey who announces that it's Suhoor, the early-morning meal before sunrise.


But then there's other traditions, like the Muslims in Cameroon, I thought this was so beautiful, they actually open their front doors before Iftar to say, like, “If you're hungry, come in and join us for Iftar.”


And then there's also traditions that individual families create. So in our family we have something called a Ramadan calendar. It's much more common now. But basically it's a calendar with pockets. And each day is filled with a good deed and two Skittles, so that my two boys have a good deed to do every day. And they also get two Skittles because mommy's nice.


Matthew: Do they…? Who comes up with the deeds? Is it? Is it, we've thought of them together. These are the deeds that we've used year after year.

Ones that are like, good target deed for you? I have a couple of those of my own.


Natasha: I mean, you're giving me so many good ideas. Cause I think I created the deeds when they were four, so I created them all. But now I… They should come up with some deeds this year and I should also put in some target deeds.

But the deeds in the past were more like, um, call the oldest person in your family or call the youngest person or help your teacher today. Or clean up something. Like, simple things for kids.



[13:44] The Moon’s Phases and Ramadan


Matthew: Let’s turn our attention to the moon. She is, after all, a leading character in this book. But she’s also been present all your life, for every birthday, every holiday, every achievement, every set back, and every good night.


What are some things that you’ve noticed about the moon? If you’re listening with a friend or classmate or family member, share with them. And if you’re listening to this alone, you can think to yourself or share aloud with me. I may not be able to hear you, but I’m always listening.


What are some things that you’ve noticed about the moon?


Julia: Sometimes it can be a half moon and sometimes it can be a full moon. It can become a different one every day.


Natasha: It's like one of those things. Like, didn't we all have a relationship with Moon when we were little? Like, we would just like spend so much time thinking about it. And then as we get older, yeah. We just, I don't even know where Moon is in the point of the sky. Most of the night I couldn't find it.


Matthew: We witness phases of the moon from earth. The light reflecting from the moon goes from a sliver that’s sort of like a fingernail, to a half circle, a football shape, then a full moon before it starts to get smaller again. These phases have names: waxing crescent, first quarter, waxing gibbous, full moon, waning gibbous, last quarter, waning crescent, and new moon.


Reading from the back matter (that’s the extra information an author might include after the story in the back of a book), Natasha shares this about the lunar cycle:


“Ramadan is the ninth month in the Islamic calendar. Unlike the most commonly used calendar, the Gregorian calendar, which is based on the sun’s position, the Islamic calendar is based on the lunar cycle, the moon’s journey around the earth. Since the lunar month is approximately 29.5 days, and shorter than the Gregorian month, Ramadan shifts 11 days earlier every year. In one lifetime, you could celebrate Ramadan in the winter and the summer!”


What phase of the moon are we experiencing now as you listen to this episode? You can observe tonight? Or you can look it up by asking your smart speaker or doing an internet search with a grownup. Ask, “What phase is the moon in tonight?”



[16:20] In the Purple Veil of Twilight


Matthew: There’s a beautiful phrase that begins Moon’s Ramadan and is repeated throughout the story: “In the purple veil of twilight, Moon smiles at Earth.”


Listen to how Natasha talks about it.


Natasha: To break down the phrase, twilight is when the sun goes below the horizon line at sunset. And something magical happens to the sky in that moment, like it is brilliant. It is shades of orange and pink. and purple, and sometimes it just settles into this beautiful pink and purple, which is the colors I use in my book.


But it's also an important time of day during Ramadan because it kind of signals that the day’s ended and it's time for Iftar and it's time for families to gather and we're going to have this beautiful moment very soon.


“Veil” means to conceal or hide or disguise. And, like we were talking about earlier, with this beautiful sky, sometimes we don't even notice when Moon appears and we forget about Moon.


And a lot of people are forgetting about Moon in this story as the month continues, but Moon is always there, um, no matter what, um, when we need. See the moon when we don't, it's always there.


And veil also has another meaning. So veil means a cloth that covers the head. And I am surrounded by smart, strong Muslim women who wear something called the hijab, which is a veil that covers the head, including my mom. And I actually gifted her a purple veil to celebrate the launch of my book.


So where did the term come from? I think I was really just thinking about that moment of twilight and also just like how Moon kind of… It's going from light to dark, and moon just slowly appears to us and we don't notice her. And it's very kind of mysterious.

And since I knew the story was gonna be from the point of view of Moon, I wonder what she was thinking in that moment when twilight was happening and she was slowly appearing to the world. She might feel like she's a little veiled and that no one has yet noticed her, but she is noticing everyone.



[18:58] We Are All Different Types of Bread


Natasha: “Moon marvels as friends of different faiths share a meal to celebrate. Together, they rise like bread. Tonight neighbors break biscuits, challah, naan, and pita. Sliced for sharing, the bread is moon's last quarter shape.”


I knew that I wanted to do an interfaith spread, because interfaith iftars were such a big part of my experience growing up,. During Ramadan most masjids… So “masjid” is the Arabic word for mosque, and that's what I grew up saying is masjid… So most masjids open their doors and let the community visit and have an iftar.


And in the, in the interfaith iftars that I went to, the local rabbi would come, the priests would come, the community would come, and it was just this beautiful moment of solidarity.


And in the scene I actually have a little girl painting, um, a Ramadan Mubarak sign. And that was a memory I had of painting the Ramadan Mubarak sign at our masjid’'s events.

And, and then there's actually, there's two scenes here. There's three friends having an Iftar with different types of breads. And this is kind of like the west, like Sedona area of the world. And it's turning into this the steam from the pita bread is, evoking a memory for that person.


And I did not grow up with challah being served, but the reason that I talked about different types of bread is because I feel in our heart that we are all, no matter what you believe, we are all different types of bread. And the bread itself is the same. I think we all believe in compassion and kindness, but it takes different forms and we practice that form in different ways.


So that's what I was saying with that text.


And I put another little secret message in this spread because the swirls in the smoke actually have a hidden message. I'll show you up close. This right here it says “salaam” in Arabic, which means peace.


So this one was really special to me cause I think this was like this experience for my childhood and growing up I remember going to interfaith iftars in my twenties and now I take my kids. This was something that was super special.


And they say sometimes when you illustrate, you have to draw the world as you want to see it. And this was really one of those moments.



[22:01] Different Perspectives


Matthew: Natasha’s story is just one representation of Ramadan. She did lots of research and was intentional about representing Muslim kids, families, and communities across the world, but she is only one storyteller. When you tell the story of your Ramadan, it may share some things in common, but it will almost definitely be different because it will be personal to you, your family, and your traditions.


To that end, Natasha wanted to share this thought:


Natasha: It was a huge responsibility to write about a holiday or a time of month, actually. Eid is the holiday at the end of Ramadan. But it was a huge responsibility to write something that represented almost 2 billion people.


So I think what I would say is go and read other Ramadan books because every perspective is different. And um, I love that you would read my perspective, but there's a lot of perspectives out there.



[23:02] A Message from Natasha Khan Kazi


Matthew: Listeners, I certainly hope you have the opportunity to read Moon’s Ramadan. Thank you for joining me today in my conversation with Natasha.


As I prepare to head back to my library full of children, I hope that you will remember this special message from Natasha Khan Kazi.


Natasha: Always stay curious, open-minded and honest. When we learn from each other, we learn something about ourselves.

I want you all to look around the room and see that we are all unique and that's a beautiful thing. Same is boring. So please be proud of your identity.



[23:47] Closing


Matthew: The Children’s Book Podcast is written, edited, and produced by me, Matthew Winner.


Follow the show wherever podcasts are found, and leave us a rating or review when you do. That helps us out a whole lot because it helps the show get discovered by and recommended to new listeners.


Natasha? Where can listeners find you?


Natasha: You can find me at my website, which is www.natashakhankazi.com. And you can find me on social media, probably any social media you use, at Natasha Khan Kazi.


Matthew: Visit matthewcwinner.com for a full transcript of this episode plus some questions that you can use as you think about this episode.


You can also reach out and let me know if you observe Ramadan. You can also let me know what phase the moon is in as you listen to this episode. I would love to hear about that from you.


Write to me or send me a message at matthewmakespods@gmail.com. That’s M-A-T-T-H-E-W M-A-K-E-S P-O-D-S at gmail dot com.


Want a copy of Moon’s Ramadan? Jules, where should our listeners look?


Julia: Check your school or public library, your classroom, or, if you want to support independent bookstores, you can purchase a copy at Bookshop.org.


Matthew: I’ll have a link in the show notes.


Our podcast logo was created by Duke Stebbins (https://stebs.design/).


Our music is by Podington Bear.


Podcast hosting by Libsyn.


You can support the show and buy me a coffee at www.matthewcwinner.com.


We are a proud member of Kids Listen, the best place to discover the best in kids podcasts. Learn more at kidslisten.org.


Fellow teachers and librarians, want a way to explore building a stronger culture of reading in our communities? In The Reading Culture podcast, Beanstack co-founder Jordan Bookey hosts conversations that dive into beloved authors' personal journeys and insights into motivating young people to read. And I am a big fan! Check out the Reading Culture Podcast with Jordan Bookey, from Beanstack. Available wherever podcasts are found.


Anything else you want to share, Julia?


Julia: Have a good day. And check out the moon, if it’s a half moon or a full moon.


Matthew: And on that note…


Be well. And read on.




End Of Episode


125 views1 comment

Recent Posts

See All

1 Comment


Beautiful interview, Natasha! And such a gorgeous book that serves to bring people together. Thank you for creating it!

Like
bottom of page