Tricia Brown saw him at the mosque, playing with other Muslim children after Sunday prayers. The little boy in the festive clothing was laughing and running with a red balloon.
Later, he told her his name was Imran Azam. She asked the boy, then 6, several questions, including what he wanted to be when he grew up. A rock star, he answered.
"He said it with such confidence and innocence - the way any child his age would," says Brown.
A Sacramento kindergarten teacher and award-winning children's book author, Brown continued interviewing Imran over the next year.
The result is "Salaam: A Muslim American Boy's Story" (Henry Holt, $17.95, 40 pages), which has been selected as this month's Bee Book Club pick. In the book, which includes black-and-white photographs by Ken Cardwell, Imran tells his first-person story.
Brown and Imran will appear together for a question-and-answer session and book signing on Saturday. The free event is part of The Bee's second annual Share a Story Children's Book Drive, which runs through April. Bee Book Club participants are asked to bring new and "gently used" books that will be donated to children in the name of literacy.
In her book, Brown wanted to describe what it's like for a Muslim American child in the post-9/11 world.