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Iqbal and His Ingenious Idea: How a Science Project Helps One Family and the Planet

Iqbal and His Ingenious Idea: How a Science Project Helps One Family and the Planet

Elizabeth Suneby, Illustrated by Rebecca Green
Kids Can Press
32 pp.
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Amid monsoons and the daily prayers of Ramadan, Iqbal dreams of winning his school’s sustainability-themed science contest. His mother and baby sister Rupa have developed a cough from sitting inside cooking food over an open fire. With the help of his other sister, Sadia, Iqbal finds a way to help them by turning an umbrella into a solar cooker.

Iqbal’s story is steeped in the customs and language of Bangladesh while celebrating universal human qualities such as curiosity and ingenuity. Sadia’s role is realistic; she joins her brother in school and helps him build his stove, but unlike Iqbal, she is expected to help with childcare and cooking.

Author Elizabeth Suneby seamlessly weaves Bengali words into the text, describing, for example, how Iqbal offers the first serving of “semai”—a dessert made with vermicelli noodles served at “Eid al-Fitr” (the holiday that marks the end of Ramadan)—to Sadia to thank her for her help. Illustrator Rebecca Green’s colored pencil illustrations depict Iqbal’s family and their village in vivid detail. The book’s appendices provide an explanation of the benefits of clean cookstoves and a glossary of Bengali words.

Readers can also follow instructions to create their own solar cooker. The project will require a pizza box, aluminum foil, plastic wrap, and a lot of patience—the stove will take 30 or 40 minutes to heat up in the sun.

About the author

The reviewer is the letters editor at Science.