Based on an old Jewish folktale featuring those foolish citizens of Chelm, this story is the quintessential fool's tale. A sailor sets sail to find out about the land beyond the horizon. Unknowingly, he gets turned around and lands at the precise place from which he started. Despite all evidence to the contrary, Lemuel, the foolish sailor, believes he has found the land beyond the horizon and that it looks just like his home. Having explored this new land to his satisfaction, he sets sail once again for home. Again he gets turned around and lands, at last at the same dock from which he started. Now, of course, he believes he's home—and glad to be there after his exotic travels. Young readers who can suspend their disbelief will enjoy feeling superior to Lemuel, the fool. Teachers who want to make a point with older readers about believing what you expect to see will have much use for this classic tale. And readers who enjoy a good folktale, no matter how foolish, will enjoy both the story and the simply drawn, full-color illustrations. 2001, Peachtree, $15.95. Ages 6 to 12. Reviewer: Judy Katsh
School Library Journal
K-Gr 4-Lemuel lives in a small fishing village but dreams of the wonderful city that must lie just beyond the horizon. His practical wife tires of his musings, but does not stop her husband when he decides to build a boat and set sail for the enchanted city. Leaving enough salted fish to feed his family in his absence, the man sets out, keeping his way by watching the scarf he has tied to the bow of his ship and the rope that trails behind. Predictably, gentle chaos ensues when he arrives back at his own village, but, fool that he is, he assumes that this new town, thought so exotic in his dreams, proves that things are "the same the world over." He even eats at his own table, marveling that the exact double of his beloved Essie knows his name. When night falls, he sets a course for home, making sure that the scarf stays ahead and the rope trails behind. Landing at a familiar beach, Lemuel rushes home, full of tales of his adventure. Essie welcomes him again saying, "Of course you're home, you fool.-Where else in the world could you possibly be?" This quietly humorous ending will draw smiles from listeners. The framed, softly painted illustrations give the book an albumlike quality that heightens the sense of old-world fantasy. Lemuel is a kind and earnest-looking fool, and his wife smiles patiently at his antics. Story and pictures combine to form a fine choice for most collections.-Martha Link, Louisville Free Public Library, KY Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.