Riding a Donkey Backwards: Wise and Foolish Tales of Mulla Nasruddin

Sean Taylor and the Khayaal Theatre, illus. by Shirin Adl. Candlewick, $18.99 (48p) ISBN 978-1-5362-0507-7
Is he a wise man or a fool? Though Nasruddin has many different names, the trickster about whom these stories are told is known throughout the Muslim world. Taylor (The Snowbear) and the U.K.-based Khayaal Theatre recount each story in a page or two. In the first, after a thief absconds with Nasruddin’s worldly goods, Nasruddin trails him all the way home and climbs into his bed. The thief asks him what he’s doing—“I thought we were moving to your house,” Nasruddin replies. In another, a begging Nasruddin takes big silver coins in preference to smaller gold coins, though they’re less valuable: “If I choose the gold coin,” he explains, “everyone will stop giving me money.” Diorama-like miniature sets by artist Adl (Mabrook! A World of Muslim Weddings) breathe energy and humor into the tales. The marketplace where Nasruddin begs features hand-formed copper pots, miniature bags of grain, and carpets that appear hand-embroidered. The paper cutout figures wear antic expressions and costumes of cut-out fabric. Young listeners will quickly grasp that often, it’s Nasruddin’s companions who might be the fools. A glossary of terms (Allah, imam) is included. Ages 4–8. (Aug.)
Reviewed on : 05/02/2019
Release date: 08/13/2019
Genre: Children's
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