Back when the Moors ruled southern Spain, three naughty boys — Muslim Rashid, Jewish Samuel, and Christian Miguel — are caught pulling pranks on the visitors to the Mosque of Cordoba. As punishment they must work in its gardens, and it's there that they develop a deep sense of the building's beauty and significance. Years later, when the Christian king threatens to demolish the mosque and build a church in its place, the three friends reunite to save the great building. Ann Jungman’s thoughtful text and Shelley ...
Back when the Moors ruled southern Spain, three naughty boys — Muslim Rashid, Jewish Samuel, and Christian Miguel — are caught pulling pranks on the visitors to the Mosque of Cordoba. As punishment they must work in its gardens, and it's there that they develop a deep sense of the building's beauty and significance. Years later, when the Christian king threatens to demolish the mosque and build a church in its place, the three friends reunite to save the great building. Ann Jungman’s thoughtful text and Shelley Fowles’s vibrant paintings enliven this story with a powerful lesson about tolerance.
This snazzy-looking picture book travels back to 1236 to address a topic that couldn't be more timely: the importance of respect and cooperation among people of different faiths. Jungman (Vlad the Drac) whisks readers to Cordoba, "the most beautiful city in the world," and home to a particularly splendid mosque with even more splendid gardens. Fowles (The Bachelor and the Bean) depicts the gardens in a jewel-toned palette, the trees brightly adorned with stylized fruits and foliage, the people in arrestingly patterned clothing, the perspectives just flattened enough to recall the period setting. Three roguish boys-one Muslim, one Jewish, one Christian-play pranks together in the gardens but are caught by the Caliph, who teaches them a lesson by assigning them to work there. Over the course of their sentence they explore the mosque and agree that it is truly "a house of God." Many years later, when all three are adults, Christians conquer Cordoba (in a battle scene choreographed like a medieval painting, grand and bloodless), and the Christian king decrees that the mosque must be destroyed. The three friends lobby the king together, speaking on behalf of the city's three religious populations, and win the day. If Fowles doesn't quite convey the architectural majesty of the mosque at Cordoba, she generates a visual excitement strong enough to balance the implicit lesson in the text and to kindle the interest of the target audience. Ages 4-7. (Mar.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
- Ken Marantz
The Great Mosque of Cordoba remains for all to enjoy because of three friends, Rashid, a Muslim, Samuel, a Jew, and Miguel, a Christian. When as young boys they commit mischief and are sentenced to help care for the gardens of the mosque, they learn to appreciate its beauty. After they are grown, the Christian king, Fernando, captures Cordoba from the Muslim Caliph. He plans to destroy the mosque to build a church. The three old friends, speaking for all of the community, persuade him to preserve it. A note fills in the factual history behind the story, noting the tolerance of the Muslims and the respect of the people of Cordoba for all religions. Fowles depicts historic southern Spain with its orange groves, fountains, ornate architecture, and people in period dress in a less-than-realistic style, while mixed media provide considerable detail in double-page scenes and vignettes. Despite the seriousness of the subject, the artist avoids melodrama; rather, there is a light-hearted quality to the visual tale that matches the three males' friendship. The endpapers offer a delightful display of decorative symbols.
School Library Journal
Gr 1-4-An author's note provides some historical background for this story set in Spain. Three mischievous boys roughhouse in the gardens of Cordoba's Great Mosque and drop oranges on people's heads. When they are finally caught, the Caliph sentences them to work on the grounds for three months. After this experience, the boys come to appreciate the beauty of the building. Years later, when a Christian king threatens to tear down the mosque to build a church, the three friends-one a Christian, one a Jew, and one a Muslim-convince him that all three communities want the structure to remain. Since the town speaks with one voice, the king agrees and the mosque still stands today. Vibrant, colorful paintings depict the action and setting of the story. The illustrations reveal the characters' feelings as they react to the unfolding events. This appealing story emphasizes the theme that when individuals work together, everyone wins.-Margaret R. Tassia, Millersville University, PA Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Ann Jungman is a prolific children's author whose titles include the ever-popular Vlad the Drac and Leila’s Magical Monster Party. Her first book for Frances Lincoln was Cinderella and the Hot Air Balloon, illustrated by Russell Ayto.
Shelley Fowles was born in South Africa. She is currently working on her M.A. in Illustration at the University of Brighton, specialising in folk and fairy tales. Her first book was The Bachelor and the Bean (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)