The Blue Pool of Questions

Maya Abu-Alhayyat, trans. from the Arabic by Hanan Awad, illus. by Hassan Manasrah. Penny Candy (Itasca, dist.), $13.95 paper (40p) ISBN 978-0-9972219-8-5
Originally published by the Palestine Writing Workshop, this 2016 winner (for illustration) of the Etisalat Award for Arabic Children’s Literature tells an elliptical, allegorical story of a lonely man whose many questions set him apart from a busy world with no time for them. “He sang strange tunes. Dried flowers fell from his sleeves. Books slept inside his coat like shoes in a closet,” writes Abu-Alhayyat of the man, whom Manasrah paints with a streak of bright blue hair and a green scarf that’s forever swirling around his neck. The questions in the man’s books gather into an enormous pool that disrupts city life; eventually, the man works up the courage to dive in, egged on by an entity within the pool’s depths called the Answer. Though the man finds companionship and a kind of contentment in his new home, readers may have lingering questions. Is seeking the answers to big, difficult questions worth it, if it results in near-total isolation? Regardless, Manasrah’s richly multilayered illustrations mesh gracefully with Abu-Alhayyat abstract writing in a haunting meditation on one man’s search for belonging and meaning. Ages 5–up. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 07/24/2017
Genre: Children's
Hardcover - 40 pages - 978-0-9987999-0-2
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