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Press Release

Calgary Author/Illustrator’s First Book is a Teaching Aid for World Celebrations Classes

June 19th, 2012.

Contact: Katherine Bullock

Calgary resident, Eman Salem, who works part-time illustrating books for children, has turned her hand to writing a children’s book of her own:  A Little Tree Goes for Hajj. The book is a whimsical story of a little tree whose dream of travelling to Mecca finally comes true. The book is a teaching aid for public schools whose curriculum includes “World Festivals.”  It was written with care, so that children not familiar with the Hajj can understand the story, plus a glossary with short definitions and explanations of rituals for teachers. Eman Salem, who studied at the Alberta College of Art and Design, graduating with a Bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts, has illustrated several Islamic children’s books before.   A Little Tree  Goes for Hajj is the first book Eman has written herself. Although she found the process of writing the hardest, Eman says she found it easier to illustrate her own text compared to another’s.  “The vision I had was easy to translate on to paper.”  She adds, “I can’t wait to start the next one.” The publisher Compass Books, based in Oakville, Ontario, encouraged her to do the book as a dual language book, so Eman’s husband and sister-in-law prepared the Arabic translation. Eman hopes the book will be a useful learning tool about Hajj for both Muslim and non-Muslim children. The books are available online at, or  Calgarians can purchase a copy by contacting Eman Salem,  An e-version of the book is due to be released by the end of the year.


In the Mississauga News

Jan 17, 2011

by JOSEPH CHIN – Mississauga News

Children’s book reduces stereotypes

Hot off the press. Local author Katherine Bullock with the At The Masjid Learning Series, children’s books aimed at breaking down the negative stereotypes of Muslims.


Staff photo by Rob Beintema

An Erin Mills resident aims to break down negative stereotypes about Muslims – and she’s beginning with preschool children.
Katherine Bullock, a part-time lecturer at University of Toronto Mississauga (UTM), is the author of the At the Masjid Learning Series, a collaboration between herself and one-time fellow Mississaugan and illustrator, Heather Greenwood.
The titles in the series are: Colours at the Masjid, Opposites at the Masjid, Numbers at the Masjid and Shapes at the Masjid. Each of the four books, geared to children aged two to five, focuses on a basic learning concept. The words are accompanied by colourful illustrations.
Bullock says she used the word ‘masjid’ in the title, rather than ‘mosque,’ as a way to introduce the more authentic Arabic word, which is commonly used amongst Muslims for their houses of worship.
Bullock says the idea for the series came to her as she read board books about numbers, colours, shapes and opposites to her then 18-month-old, first-born son.
“I yearned for board books of similar quality in English about things to do with Islam,” said Bullock, who converted to Islam in 1994, a couple of years after her marriage to a Muslim man. “I wanted him to grow up in Canada loving the masjid, and so I thought of a book that would bring these two wishes together: a book about a masjid and a first book about numbers. The idea grew in my mind into a whole series, and churned away through the birth of my second and third children.”
Seven years later, the At the Masjid Learning Series is in print.
Greenwood was living in Egypt when Bullock contacted her seeking an illustrator for the books. Egypt, says the artist, who now lives in London, Ontario, was the perfect opportunity to collect reference material as Cairo is known as the city of 1,000 minarets.
“I painted the illustrations using bright watercolours in a whimsical style I hoped would be appealing to young children and in turn encourage them to learn. I think it’s important for Muslim children growing up in multicultural Canada to have some learning material uniquely tailored for them, so I was pleased when asked to illustrate the series. Being a convert to Islam and having five older children, I look forward to reading these to my grandchildren one day.”
While the primary audience for the books is young Muslims, Bullock, who teaches a course, The Politics of Islam, at UTM, says she wrote the books with an eye on diversity material for multicultural public schools.
Bullock says the series aims to serve a dual purpose: helping Muslim children become familiar with the masjid and at the same time play a role in reducing negative stereotypes of mosques for the wider Canadian society.
She hopes the books will be of interest to public school teachers for use in their classrooms as multicultural enrichment material.
“We see at present a very negative feeling towards mosques, especially in our neighbour to the south. I, myself, remember feeling afraid of mosques. Even after I converted to Islam, it took me nine months to summon the courage to go inside a mosque,” said Bullock.
Each book in the series takes the reader on a “tour” of the mosque.
“We start at the front door, and invite the reader inside, as if we were going into a real mosque,” she said.
The books are available at Sound Vision, on Haines Ave. E-versions are due out soon.



In the London Free Press


Wednesday, February 9, 2011

LITERATURE: Series for kids aims to dispell stereotypes about Islam

Entertainment Books

Mosque is focus of books

By KATHY RUMLESKI, The London Free Press


Children’s book illustrator Heather Greenwood holds up her four-book series about Islam and the role of the mosque. Photo by Derek Ruttan London Free Press

Eliminating stereotypes can be hard.

A local artist is using her talents to help educate children about Islam and hopefully prevent any negative stereotypes from forming.

Heather Greenwood has joined forces with Mississauga writer Katherine Bullock to create the four-book series At the Masjid.


“I think it’s important. We should be known as a peaceful religion,” Greenwood said.

“(Bullock)’s idea was to write a book that would be accessible to both Muslim and non-Muslim children: To help Muslim children growing up in Canada to love their house of worship and to help reduce negative stereotypes of the mosque for the wider community.”

The four board books, for kids between the ages of two and five, focus on shapes, numbers, opposites and colours.

Bullock said she used “masjid” in the title, rather than “mosque,” to introduce the more authentic Arabic word for the house of worship.

Bullock leads children through the masjid with the colourful illustrations by Greenwood.

Greenwood, who was born in St. Thomas and lived in the area for a number of years, was residing in Egypt when she was contacted about illustrating the books.

Greenwood, who has five children, lived in Egypt for three years before moving to London a year ago.

She wanted to live in Egypt to give her children a different setting and experience, she said.

Greenwood converted from Christianity to Islam in 1986.

“It just felt right for me,” Greenwood said of her conversion.

“But everyone should respect each other and respect all religions. It just seemed right for me when I started reading about (the religion).”

Working on books is something Greenwood has thought about for some time.

“I always wanted to do a children’s book.”

She has also written a book herself and hopes to one day add illustrations and get it published.

Trained as a graphic artist, Greenwood said drawing came naturally.

“When I went to graphics school, it wasn’t like it is now — all computerized. We had to do everything by hand. Even our type was drawn by hand. Hopefully that gave me the ability to illustrate, as well as do graphic work.”

Greenwood also paints, using both acrylic and watercolour, and has recently had a show of her art in London.

At the Masjid series was published in the fall.

The box set is $15 and is available at the Toy Shoppe of London on Fanshawe Park Rd.

Greenwood and Bullock hope schools will consider using them in the classroom or in libraries.

For more information, visit

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