Nasreddine

Odile Weulersse, Author, R Dautremer, Illustrator
Odile Weulersse, trans. from the French by Kathleen Merz, illus. by Rébecca Dautremer. Eerdmans, $17 (32p) ISBN 978-0-8028-5416-2
Reviewed on: 02/11/2013
Release date: 03/01/2013
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Dautremer’s (The Secret Lives of Princesses) evocative spreads of Middle Eastern marketplace life lend a meditative air to French author Weulersse’s version of an ancient tale, which casts the legendary wise man as a boy. No matter how Nasreddine and his father, Mustafa, make the trip to market—father on donkey, son on foot; son on donkey, father on foot; both on donkey; neither on donkey—idling onlookers find fault in their choice. “A lazy man who lounges and makes his son slosh through the mud!” clucks a vizier. “Your words, sir, are hurting my ears,” Mustafa always replies, unruffled. He watches with sweet acceptance as Nasreddine dreams up new ways to get to market that he thinks will avoid criticism. Dautremer’s scenes contrast the narrow, shadowed alleyways of the market and its gossips with the inviting, grassy fields beyond. The effect is of a slow, philosophical working-out of the wisdom: “It’s up to you to decide if what you’re hearing is wise, or if it’s only a silly and hurtful remark.” The portrait of a father’s gentle acceptance of his son’s insecurity is a welcome gift, too. Ages 4–9. (Mar.)
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