Namika

BASIC INFOLANGUAGE LEVELCOMPREHENSION-AIDING FEATURES
Book Title Namika
(Namika)
Author(s) Julie Young
Illustrator(s) Cover Design by Kozakura
Graphic Art by Kheya Siddiqui
Other Contributors Edited by Carol Gaab
Published by Fluency Matters
Publication date 2020
Genre History and Biographies
#Ownvoices NO
From the author/publisher’s website
Level 3

Total Word Count
4780





Illustrations                    YES 
Glossary                         YES
Guiding Questions       NO  
Context                          NO  
Other                              Foreword 





IDENTITIES PRESENT IN THE TEXTSYNOPSIS
Races, Ethnicities, and Nationalities
German
Moroccan
Berber
Eritrean

Languages spoken
German


Sex and Genders
Male
Female (main character)

Ages
Teenager: 13-18
Young Adult: 18-35
Mid-life Adult: 35-65
Senior Adult: 65+

Social classes
Poor
Sexual Orientation
Heterosexual

Abilities
Neurotypical
Non-disabled
Non-Impaired

Religions
Muslim

Family Structures
Extended family
Single parent

Body Type
Straight-size





From the author/publisher’s website 

Hanan Hamdi is anything but ordinary! Born in Germany to Moroccan parents, Hanan looks neither like a typical German nor a typical rap singer. Growing up in Germany ‘different’ and without a father, Hanan struggled with her identity. In Germany she was ‘the Moroccan’ and in Morocco she was ‘the German’. Learn how she came to understand that having two cultures is a precious gift. Hanan’s love of music helped her find herself and her music communicates powerful messages of acceptance, love and family. As Namika, she would later give many interviews about her background and upbringing. This book is based on those interviews as well as on the song texts she herself writes. After all, the  name Namika means ‘the writer’.








ILLUSTRATIONSSTORYSOCIAL JUSTICE
To what extent do the illustrations present positive and thoughtful representations of identities?

The illustrations of Namika are very close to her real-life appearance and support a positive representation of Namika as a singer.  It is worth noting that Namika is only shown singing (p.cover, p. 46, p. 49) in illustrations and it is not clear whether the other pictures are images from Namika’s life or if they are stock photos. 

On page 25, an image of a smiling, darker-skinned man at the wheel of a car is used.  It is unclear how this supports comprehension of the novel at that juncture, which is about a family conversation at the kitchen table. If the man is meant to stand in for Namika’s grandfather (who is present in the family conversation) or her father (who is not present), the reader is left wondering how a specific, real man of Berber heritage is meant to be represented in the stock photo used.

01.30.2022: The author has since reached out to LLLAB to confirm the picture on p. 25 is a stand-in for Namika’s father. 
We understand identities are complex and no single story represents the spectrum of identity-based experiences. Also, a text may address a stereotype, misrepresentation, or generalization without relying on it.

Does any stereotype, misrepresentation, or generalization affect any positive and thoughtful representations of identities in the text?

NO










This section is for teachers who are working towards sourcing more texts within the four domains of anti-bias education. We are excited about reading all books and we understand that not all books are written for this specific purpose. 

Does this text work toward goals within any of the four domains of anti-bias education as defined by Learning For Justice

Identity: Promote a healthy self-concept and exploration of identity









LLLAB’s REVIEW
Namika is inspired by the real events that led Namika, a German singer whose parents are Berber Moroccan, to become one of the most successful musicians in Germany. Mostly based on true events and interviews with the singer, the story starts in 2009 when Namika is in High School and ends in 2017 when she sings the German national anthem at a soccer match in Munich.

Namika shows positive affect towards both countries and cultures that she feels she belongs to throughout the book.  This is evident from the first pages of the book (p.2-3: “Ich liebe Marokko, und ich liebe Deutschland” – I love Morocco and I love Germany), and continues throughout the book (p. 37: “Ich fühle mich wie zu Hause hier” – I feel like I am at home here) as Namika explores what it means for her to be a German of Moroccan descent.  Namika is never forced to make a choice between her two home cultures, and very proudly defends belonging to both (p.32, p.37).  This allows her to question what it means to be “German” as she explores her identity (p. 3, 51).

Furthermore, the book talks about Namika’s personal and social characteristics which would have influences on her life, which include not only her language, family history, cultures, and religion, but also her skin color.  It is very clear to the reader that Namika has darker skin, which is minoritized in Germany (p.3).  Namika seems to embrace that which makes her “different,” and pushes back against characterizations of being “exotic” (p. 8, 38).

Namika’s grand-parents take care of her and her brothers while her mother has to work and she develops a strong bond with them. On page 23 she describes her grandmother’s hands : “Großmutters Hände geben uns allen so viel Liebe” – “Grandma’s hands give us all so much love.” On page 29, she says to her grandfather:  ”Ich liebe Frühstück und ich liebe dich” – “I love breakfast and I love you.”  Her family is positive and supportive of her dreams, despite initial reservations, even serving as first critics of her music (p.47).

It is unclear to the reader what parts of the story (narration and dialogues) come from the source interviews with Namika or her song lyrics, and what parts were created by the author.  For example, the reader may wonder whether Namika would characterize herself as a “Hartz-IV-Kind” (“Hartz-IV-Child”, Hartz-IV being a German law providing a basic income to the unemployed or low-earning families) or if this is the author choosing to create this internal characterization (p.19).  Namika accepting her family receiving Hartz-IV support as part of her identity gives a different impression and implications than an outside person characterizing her family as a “welfare family,” in essence.  This lack of clarity might be addressed by a bibliography of the sources used to create the book, which are alluded to on the back cover.

01.30.202: The author has since reached out to LLLAB to confirm that the use of the expression “Hartz IV Kind” is from Namika herself.

The book opens on a generalization about Morocco (p.1) : “Ich liebe Morocco. Es ist immer warm und sonnig.” (I love Morocco. It’s always warm and sunny) Morocco’s climate is regional, and characterizing the entire country by the warm, coastal climate of Nador seems to play into simplifications of African geography and cultures. Additionally, there is not one but many Berber languages in North Africa. It is worth noting that Nador, where Namika’s family is from, is the largest Tarifit-speaking (one of the Tamazight languages) city in the world.  This again may be addressed by knowing if Namika’s portrayal of “speaking Berber” (p.39) instead of “speaking Tarifit” is from the singer’s words or the author’s. Therefore, though Moroccan Berber cultural products and practices are represented positively, it would be interesting to know if the author/publisher used a cultural consultant from Nador or at least from Morocco, in order to ensure that these are also represented as thoughtfully as possible.

3 thoughts on “Namika

  1. Hi, I would like to point out that the main character is female and not male as stated in the review. Also, the use of the expression ‘Hartz IV Kind’ is from Namika and not from the author. Many of the images are stock pictures because of copyright restrictions. The image of the man referred to is supposed to represent Namika’s father. The chapter is about Namika’s father. The conversation at the kitchen table is about Namika’s father. Thank you for the review.

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    1. Thank you for these clarifications. We have updated the typo regarding the main character’s gender. We will discuss how to best reflect the rest of your comment at our January LLLAB meeting and will subsequently update the review.

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    2. Julie, we have now updated the review by adding your two notes about Namika’s father and the expression he expression ‘Hartz IV Kind’. Thank you.

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