cover image The Wise Fool: Fables from the Islamic World

The Wise Fool: Fables from the Islamic World

Shahrukh Husain, illus. by Micha Archer. Barefoot, $16.99 (64p) ISBN 978-1-84686-226-7

Mulla Nasruddin, a legendary 13th-century character based on a traveling Sufi and the hero of beloved stories in Asia, Africa, and Europe, plays different roles in each of these 22 brief Islamic tales: that of a judicious moderator, a shrewd negotiator, a trickster, and an everyman (he argues with his wife in one story and, in another, tells a white lie to avoid loaning his donkey to a freeloader). Husain’s accessible and lively prose delivers satisfying morals that are rarely predictable; for example, when the Mulla concocts an inventive story to keep his pupils from eating his baklava and returns to find the plate empty, he praises a pupil who tells a tall tale of his own. Rendered in vibrant golds, greens, and blues, Archer’s collages, created from a variety of papers and homemade stamps, seamlessly intermesh with the spirited vignettes. Ages 6–up. (Sept.)