cover image The Storytellers

The Storytellers

Ted Lewin. HarperCollins, $16 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-688-15178-2

Lewin (Market!) once again demonstrates his remarkable gift for bringing faraway locales to life for young readers, even if this tale of Abdul and his storyteller-grandfather, who head to work on the outskirts of an ancient Moroccan city, falls flat. Sun-tinged watercolor scenes of Fez bustle with the activity of the souk, or marketplace: muleteers guiding mules loaded down with brass bowls and crates holding TV sets, a wool-dyer twisting long, bright skeins, a wizened old falconer holding his pink-hooded peregrine, leather-dyers drying the dyed skins on rooftops, weavers, rug merchants and other intriguing sights. Lewin builds suspense by hinting at the work that lies ahead for his two protagonists--Abdul carries a cage with a single white pigeon and Grandfather carries a blanket. But when they at last arrive at the city gates, wait for the crowd to gather, and release the pigeon who carries a story back from the sky for Grandfather to tell, readers never get to hear it. Lewin tells only the beginning and end of the tale, and readers may well feel cheated. Unfortunately, the lovely panoramas can't make up for the book's abrupt ending. Ages 5-up. (Apr.)