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.)
School Library Journal
Gr 3�6—The excellent introduction to this collection of fables featuring the 13th-century Sufi Mulla Nasruddin explains that his exploits are popular throughout the Islamic world. Often depicted with his faithful donkey and an oversize turban, Nasruddin inspires respect along with smiles. These 22 stories find Nasruddin matching wits with wise men and the demanding ruler Tamerlaine, and passing out justice in stories such as "The Price of Steam." Though revered for his wisdom, Nasruddin was also an Everyman with nosy neighbors and the delightful ability to laugh at himself. When his neighbors notice his turban is missing, Nasruddin explains: "Oh, I passed some boys playing in the field—and guess what? My turban remembered what it is like to be young and decided to stay and join in." Vibrantly colored collage illustrations, most of them full page, add appeal, and there's a helpful glossary. This well-crafted title should engage a wide audience.—Marilyn Taniguchi, Beverly Hills Public Library, CA
Twenty-two short, entertaining and instructive tales, selected from many told about Mulla Nasruddin, introduce this wise fool known across the Islamic world from the Middle East to western China.
Known also as Khoja (or a variant of that respectful title), Nasruddin is sometimes judge, sometimes trickster and sometimes figure of fun who may once have been real, a 13th-century Turkish mystic. He's here brought to a Western audience by an author who remembers these tales from her childhood in India and Pakistan and an illustrator whose collage work recalls the colors, patterns and perspectives of Persian and Indian miniatures. The stories are short, most no more than a page or two; the morals are unstated. They're set on full-bleed double-page spreads or opposite framed pictures in vibrant colors—blues, reds, yellow-golds and greens. Among the geometrical designs and patterns, flat perspectives and frames from which some details escape, Mulla is easily recognizable with his beard, hooked nose and turban. Readers and storytellers looking for a particular one will find this compilation easy to use, with its numbered pages and a table of contents. This handsome retelling concludes with a glossary and list of the author's sources.
Most of these tales will be unfamiliar to American children, making this most welcome, as well as necessary for any folklore collection. (Folklore. 7 & up)