cover image Hosni the Dreamer: An Arabian Tale

Hosni the Dreamer: An Arabian Tale

Ehud Ben-'Ezer. Farrar Straus Giroux, $16 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-374-33340-9

A lone dreamer in the midst of practically-minded peers may be well-trod territory in the picture book kingdom, but this jauntily illustrated retelling of an old Arabian folktale puts a fresh face on the familiar theme. Caldecott Medalist Shulevitz's (The Fool of the World and the Flying Ship) color-saturated watercolors, ablaze with the fiery hues of the desert, play up the tale's exotic setting, defined not only by the broad expanses of sand and rock but also the details--bright robes, headdresses and tents, canopy-topped camels, stone stairways and minarets, and a bustling bazaar. Pivotal, more internal scenes are awash in soothing blue. Israeli author Ben-Ezer smoothly recounts the tribulations and triumphs of Hosni, a shepherd boy who longs for travel and adventure. His dreams come true when the sheik takes him to the city on a camel-trading trip. Ridiculed by his fellow travelers for spending all his earnings to buy a single verse from an elderly man, Hosni finds that his money is well spent in the end, for by heeding the man's words (""Don't cross the water until you know its depth""), he spares both himself and a young maiden from the watery death that overtakes his once-sneering companions. In good fairy-tale fashion, the pair lives happily ever after. A literary magic-carpet ride. Ages 4-8. (Sept.)