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Goha the Wise Fool
     

Goha the Wise Fool

by Denys Johnson-Davies, Hag Hamdy Mohamed Fattou (Illustrator), Hany El Saed Ahmed (Illustrator)
 

Meet Goha, that funny little man with the faithful donkey, whose tales, beloved for their wit and wisdom, have been passed down through the streets of the smallest villages of the Middle East for centuries. Meet Goha, who in making us laugh at him, shows us—young and old everywhere— that we can laugh at ourselves.

Collected by one of the Middle

Overview

Meet Goha, that funny little man with the faithful donkey, whose tales, beloved for their wit and wisdom, have been passed down through the streets of the smallest villages of the Middle East for centuries. Meet Goha, who in making us laugh at him, shows us—young and old everywhere— that we can laugh at ourselves.

Collected by one of the Middle East’s most prestigious translators and illustrated in whimsical handsewn khimeyas, this is a joyful celebration of the best of Goha, one of folklore’s most unexpected and beloved heroes.

Editorial Reviews

Booklist
"In this spirited collaboration, a Middle Eastern trickster-fool is strikingly presented to American children. [E]ach scene exudes a comical energy... that will instantly put kids in a giggling mood."
Publishers Weekly
The 15 tales in this collection belong to a Middle Eastern oral tradition about a wise fool who sometimes bears the brunt of his neighbors and sometimes outwits them. Each story contains a full-page illustration crafted by an uncle-nephew team of Cairo tentmakers; the collaborators create a khimeya, a hand-sewn quilted scene featuring Goha, dressed in dark pants, gold-tinted shoes and shirt, and green belt and turban. They fashion buildings, furniture, mats and animals from artfully cut, colorful fabrics, which contrast brightly with the straw-colored background; strategically placed black-threaded lines add a three-dimensional quality. In "Goha and the Shoes," readers laugh with Goha. He subverts his uninvited guests' plan to trick him into providing lunch by selling their shoes (left outside his door) to pay for the meal ("Your shoes... are now in your stomachs!" says he). Other stories will prompt laughter at the unlikely hero, as with "Goha Counts His Donkeys": the fellow counts 12 animals when he stands, but only 11 when he mounts. In perhaps the most familiar story, Goha and his son respond to the unsolicited criticism of passersby on a trip to a nearby town: first Goha rides the donkey while his son walks, then they switch places, then both ride, and finally, they carry the donkey. Goha's moral: "In life, it is impossible to please everyone." These charming stories provide both a fine introduction to a cultural tradition and a welcome reminder that stories can be a universal pleasure. Ages 5-up. (Aug.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal
Gr 1-6-Goha, a folk character from the Middle East, is, by turns, a fool, a wise man, and a trickster in these 15 stories. Readers may find some tales familiar from other cultures, such as when Goha gets confused about whether he has 11 or 12 donkeys (depending on whether he is counting while astride or aside of one). Others are less well known, but equally entertaining, as in the tale of friends who try to convince Goha that they are expected for dinner. The protagonist turns the tables by selling their politely removed shoes to pay for the meal. An author's note describes the multiple countries laying claim to the character's origin and shows a photograph of the tentmakers in Cairo who designed and stitched the cloth illustrations, or khiyamiyas, for this book. Colorful caricatures are appliqu d onto a sand-colored background resembling linen; there is one for each tale. The stories contain interesting cultural insights about a part of the world unknown to many in the Western Hemisphere, while yielding universal truths. Although there is a variety of curricular possibilities, children would undoubtedly enjoy comparing this folk hero to his cousins Jack, Anansi, Coyote, or Brer Rabbit. And as a guidebook to survival strategies for challenging situations, there is none better.-Wendy Lukehart, Washington DC Public Library Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Goha is the Egyptian incarnation of the Turkish Hoja Nasrudin (also known as Nasreddin Hoca) and the Iranian Mulla Nasrudin. He is a popular folk character whom some say was a real man in 13th-century Turkey. The 15 stories gathered here are all examples of the brief, funny tales about a man who acts foolishly when he is trying to be wise, and behaves wisely when he is acting like a fool. This mellow trickster surprises a thief by hiding in his closet and tells the thief that he's hiding because he's embarrassed that there is nothing to steal. In another tale, Goha tells a fib about a party at the governor's house to stop some boys from throwing stones at him. The news sounds so good he starts to believe it himself. Artists from the Street of the Tentmakers in Cairo created the unique applique scenes; the brightly colored bits of cloth applied to beige, loosely woven fabric are full of humor and artistry. A delightful introduction to the folklore of a region with a fascinating endnote about the illustrations, their creators and the origins of the stories. (Folklore. 7-10)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780399242229
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
08/28/2005
Pages:
40
Product dimensions:
10.08(w) x 10.34(h) x 0.54(d)
Lexile:
AD860L (what's this?)
Age Range:
4 - 12 Years

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher
"The stories contain interesting cultural insights about a part of the world unknown to many in the Western Hemisphere, while yielding universal truths. Although there is a variety of curricular possibilities, children would undoubtedly enjoy comparing this folk hero to his cousins Jack, Anansi, Coyote, or Brer Rabbit. And as a guidebook to survival strategies for challenging situations, there is none better." -School Library Journal, starred review

"In this spirited collaboration, a Middle Eastern trickster-fool is strikingly presented to American children. [E]ach scene exudes a comical energy… that will instantly put kids in a giggling mood." —Booklist, starred review

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