Since lazy Aladdin and his widowed mother are struggling to get by on his mother's meager earnings, a mysterious magician's promises of wealth fascinate the boy. He must rely on his wits, however, when the dark stranger tries to trick Aladdin into retrieving a magic lamp from an underground temple. Discovering the lamp's powers--its resident wish-granting djinn--Aladdin sets himself up in a comfortable new life, enjoying riches and a wife after foiling the magician's revenge. The power of wishing something so is addictive, but these protagonists, refraining from excessive greed, never lose sight of their human capabilities--a subtle lesson in the virtue of restraint. The story's histrionic plot twists offer excitement aplenty, while Kimmel's understated tone and traditional turns of phrase never decelerate the pace. Chen's artwork, a stylistic departure, features a heavy application of earthy hues--brush and knife strokes are visible throughout. Unfortunately, the tones often blend together, and the resultant muddiness makes some scenes difficult to decipher. An absorbing though ultimately uneven outing. Ages 4-8. (Oct.)
School Library Journal
K-Gr 3-- A lively retelling of the traditional story. The events are essentially the same as in Lang's translation, but Kimmel's language is more vivid and immediate. One small but telling change is that the princess, rather than Aladdin, comes up with the plan to save the lamp. The text and illustrations are contained in pointed archs common to Islamic architecture. Thick brush strokes give the pictures a wonderful texture, but sometimes the rough blending of colors leave a muddied look. Chen's djinns possess power and character, and his Aladdin a comic slyness that Le Cain's rather stylized and ornamental figures lack (Puffin, 1983). Unfortunately, many of the other figures, Aladdin's mother and the king for example, are merely comic sketches. Some of the paintings are powerfully composed, while others are less effective. Although a bit uneven in presentation, this popular tale from the Arabian Nights should find a place in larger collections. --Karen K. Radtke, Milwaukee Public Library
Kimmel retells the story of Aladdin with character and verve, comedy and terror, and perfect timing. Aladdin starts off as a lazy lout, but once he's got the "djinn" at his command, he wins the sultan's daughter and thinks nothing of building a palace in a day--until he's tricked out of the magic lamp and has to get it back. The overcrowded paintings in long vertical panels, sometimes two to a page, aren't as good as the storytelling, though the mysterious green "djinn" is a haunting genie. In a fascinating note, Kimmel shows that there's some question about whether the Aladdin story was ever an authentic part of the "Arabian Nights."