The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

November 23, 2007

Book review: Book offers interesting overview of Islam


By Matthew S. Gordon

Part of the “World Religions” series, “Islam” presents the second largest religion for those familiar with it and those just learning.

The book opens with a world map that highlights the areas of the world in which Muslims live and goes on to give a brief overview of Islam. The book addresses the common misconceptions of Islam, such as all Muslims are Arabs and that Islam teaches its followers to be violent. In fact, the majority of Muslims are not Arab and do not speak Arabic, and Islam teaches Muslims to be peaceful. Only Islamic extremists tend to be violent and hateful toward Westerners.

“Islam” looks at the history of Islam from before its foundation to the stories of Muhammad’s revelations from God and on to its presence in the 21st century. Gordon is careful to point out that Islam holds many prominent Christian and Jewish figures like Moses, Abraham, and Jesus “in high esteem.” He also points out that like Christianity and Judaism, Islam teaches that there is only one God, Allah. “Allah,” according to Gordon, is the Arabic word for God and refers to the world’s creator.

Muhammad’s revelations came when he was about 40 from the angel Gabriel. At first, Muhammad questioned these revelations and, subsequently, his sanity. Gabriel was persistent, though, and soon Muhammad came to realize that he was chosen by Allah to be His messenger. Muhammad’s teachings were well-received by some, but others, particularly the wealthy and powerful merchants in Mecca (one of Islam’s holy cities), did not think his teachings were good for business since his teachings challenged the polytheistic belief system on which their wealth relied.

The negative reception by the powerful leaders in Mecca made it necessary for Muhammad and his followers to leave Mecca and find a more friendly home. Gordon goes on to report on Muhammad’s and his followers’ travels and their struggle to find acceptance and recruit new members until they were finally able to settle once again in Mecca.

Gordon also chronicles the expansion of Islam around the world as well as Islam’s holidays, traditions and its presence in the modern world, including a brief discussion of the war in Iraq. Overall, he has written an interesting overview of Islam that will be useful to those writing reports on the religion and those who are simply interested in learning about this often misunderstood faith.

This book is located in the teen nonfiction collection.

Those interested in learning more about Islam should visit the library during the month of December to view the Islamic Society’s display.

‘Get Hooked: Simple Steps to Crochet Cool Stuff’

By Kim Werker

This colorful instructional book presents crochet to teens in an easily understood manner and looks at everything from the crochet hook and its parts to the different kinds of yarn one can use for crochet.

The instructions, while not as good as personal instruction, are clear and offer many pictures to show new crocheters what the stitches look like while they’re being formed on the hook. Werker covers all of the basic stitches, from the beginning chain stitch to the double and treble crochet. She carefully explains how to turn your project and begin a new row, which is often tricky for beginners. She also explains how to join a new piece of yarn to your project and how to finish and weave in the ends.

Once readers know how to crochet, the real fun begins. The patterns included in “Get Hooked” are colorful, easy and fun. Werker avoids using too many abbreviations that can confuse and frustrate beginners and instead concentrates on providing clear instructions that are easily followed. Crocheters can make all sorts of things from scarves and a funky baglet to punk gloves and even a miniskirt.

These patterns are good for crocheters at all levels and will surely inspire adventuresome crocheters to explore their own twists on Werker’s patterns.

“Get Hooked” is located in the teen nonfiction collection.

Teens interested in learning more about crochet or knitting should attend the library’s weekly “In Stitches” program beginning again in January. Check the library’s Web site,, or the teen department for flyers in mid-December.

Cari Boatright is the teen librarian at Joplin Public Library.