What About Me?

Overview

Ed Young once again turns a fable into a saucy collage treat in this tale about a boy who is just looking for a little bit of knowledge! Told he can have knowledge if he gets the Grand Master a carpet, he begins a journey on which everyone-from Spinner to Goatkeeper-tells him their problems. What about me? they demand. In the search for the answers, the boy discovers he has all the knowledge he needs.

A wonderful, circular tale that makes a terrific read-aloud, What About Me? is...

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Overview

Ed Young once again turns a fable into a saucy collage treat in this tale about a boy who is just looking for a little bit of knowledge! Told he can have knowledge if he gets the Grand Master a carpet, he begins a journey on which everyone-from Spinner to Goatkeeper-tells him their problems. What about me? they demand. In the search for the answers, the boy discovers he has all the knowledge he needs.

A wonderful, circular tale that makes a terrific read-aloud, What About Me? is also a story with a wise moral. Ed Young's deceptively simple cut-paper images seem to jump off the page.

A young boy determinedly follows the instructions of the Grand Master in the hope of gaining knowledge, only to be surprised as how he acquires it. Based on a Sufi tale.

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Editorial Reviews

From The Critics
The master of cut-paper illustration, Young again dazzles the eye in this retelling of a Sufi tale about a boy who seeks knowledge. When the boy approaches a grand master, the man requires a small carpet first. The carpet maker requires thread, the spinner woman requires goat hair and so on. In the exquisite collages, figures made of patterned and plain paper stand out against neutral, textured backgrounds, with boxed text supplying balance. After a quiet start, the story and illustrations pick up energy as the boy hurries to fill everyone's needs and, unwittingly, his own. —Kathleen Odean
Kathleen Odean
The master of cut-paper illustration, Young again dazzles the eye in this retelling of a Sufi tale about a boy who seeks knowledge. When the boy approaches a grand master, the man requires a small carpet first. The carpet maker requires thread, the spinner woman requires goat hair and so on. In the exquisite collages, figures made of patterned and plain paper stand out against neutral, textured backgrounds, with boxed text supplying balance. After a quiet start, the story and illustrations pick up energy as the boy hurries to fill everyone's needs and, unwittingly, his own.
Publishers Weekly
Young's (Lon Po Po) adaptation of a Sufi wisdom tale has ragged edges, but his collage illustrations frequently achieve a nearly transcendent lightness and simplicity. A boy seeks knowledge from a Grand Master, who tells the boy he needs to bring him a carpet. The boy runs to a carpetmaker, who scoffs, "He has needs! What about me? I need thread for weaving my carpets." The thread-spinner needs goat hair, and so on down the line. Once the boy completes the string of transactions, he returns to the Grand Master with his carpet and his original request for knowledge. "You already have it," the Grand Master announces. The story's two morals are spelled out on the final page: "Some of the most precious gifts that we receive are those we receive when we are giving" and "Often, knowledge comes to us when we least expect it"; these seem unlikely to illuminate either the story or the titular question clearly enough for young readers. Young's visual sense, though, never falters, despite occasional lapses in the continuity of pictorial details. Restrained use of patterned and textured papers give the collages a wonderful airiness; as the boy runs to the carpetmaker, for example, his huge skein of lilac thread streams skyward behind him. The figure of the boy, in elegant robes and turban, is almost always seen against the backdrop of vast, empty fields of speckled gray-brown, which suggest landscapes simultaneously physical and metaphysical. Ages 4-8. (June) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Children's Literature
In this simple, but expressive retelling of a traditional Sufi fable, a young boy seeks knowledge from a Grand Master. He is told he needs to bring him a small carpet. But in this cumulative tale, the carpetmaker cannot weave without thread, the spinner woman cannot spin without goat hair, and so he goes on, energetically searching, until he finally finds the needed wife for the carpenter, who gives him wood to pen goats for the goat seller, who gives him goats for the goat keeper, who gives him the hair. When he finally brings the carpet to the Grand Master, of course he is told that he already has knowledge. He is also given two lessons or morals to set the reader pondering. Young designs his bordered pages with elegant simplicity. Subtly textured backgrounds hold blocks of text and figures without any context. Collage combines patterned and solid colored shapes with watercolor touches to create character and surprising activity. A note on the Sufi is included. 2002, Philomel Books/Penguin Putnam Books for Young Readers,
— Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal
This Sufi tale provides amusement and enlightenment within a Middle Eastern context. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
This ancient Sufi tale, with beautiful new collage-and-watercolor illustrations, follows a familiar narrative structure. A boy appeals to a Grand Master for knowledge, but the Grand Master demands a carpet first, so off goes the boy to the carpetmaker-who wants thread; the spinner won't make thread until she is given goat hair; and so on. Finally, when his pursuits lead only to a woman seeking knowledge, the boy despairs and wanders away. In a new village, after a subtle narrative shift in which the boy becomes "the young man," he finds a merchant who needs help. The help he offers freely then leads back to the original chain of demands: each person in the chain gets something and also provides something-wood, goats, goat hair, thread, a small carpet. A few narrative details are unfortunate: the woman who wanted knowledge is the only person who goes unfulfilled, and a girl is one of the pieces of merchandise traded-happily, but as a piece of goods. Also, the girl is confusingly white-skinned (in contrast to all the other brown-skinned Middle Eastern characters), which is disturbing since she is the only one called "beautiful." The story flows smoothly; the illustrations skillfully and delicately use scale, posture, and composition to convey despair (the boy wandering away from his village, tiny, with his head slumped) and joy (the young man leaping, a shoe flying off). Heathered paper makes an earthy background for these expertly designed, uncluttered pages. (source note) (Picture book/folktale. 4-7)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780399236242
  • Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group
  • Publication date: 6/28/2002
  • Pages: 32
  • Age range: 5 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 9.38 (w) x 11.36 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Caldecott medalist Ed Young was born in Tientsin, China, and brought up in Shanghai. He cites the philosophy of Chinese painting as an inspiration for much of his work. "A Chinese painting is often accompanied by words," he explains; "they are complementary. There are things that words do that pictures never can, and likewise, there are images that words can never describe."

Mr. Young has been illustrating children's books for more than twenty years and has won many awards. He received the 1990 Caldecott Medal for his book Lon Po Po, and his much-lauded collaboration with anthologist Nancy Larrick, Cats Are Cats, was named one of the Ten Best Illustrated Books of 1988 by The New York Times.

Mr. Young studied at the University of Illinois, the Art Center of Los Angeles, and Pratt Institute in New York City. He and his family live in Hastings-on-Hudson, New York.

copyright 2000 by Penguin Putnam Books for Young Readers. All rights reserved.
Caldecott medalist Ed Young was born in Tientsin, China, and brought up in Shanghai. He cites the philosophy of Chinese painting as an inspiration for much of his work. "A Chinese painting is often accompanied by words," he explains; "they are complementary. There are things that words do that pictures never can, and likewise, there are images that words can never describe."

Mr. Young has been illustrating children's books for more than twenty years and has won many awards. He received the 1990 Caldecott Medal for his book Lon Po Po, and his much-lauded collaboration with anthologist Nancy Larrick, Cats Are Cats, was named one of the Ten Best Illustrated Books of 1988 by The New York Times.

Mr. Young studied at the University of Illinois, the Art Center of Los Angeles, and Pratt Institute in New York City. He and his family live in Hastings-on-Hudson, New York.

copyright 2000 by Penguin Putnam Books for Young Readers. All rights reserved.

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 27, 2002

    COLORFUL COLLAGES AND A MORAL

    No one creates colorful, eye-popping collages like the very, very popular artist Ed Young. He's the winner of three Caldecott awards; 'Seven Blind Mice' is an all time favorite. The cut-paper collages in his latest book are, indeed, works of art. Once again, Mr. Young returns to an ancient fable for inspiration in this story of a little boy who wanted only one thing: knowledge. `I shall see a Grand Master,' he concluded. The Grand Master responded that the boy needed to bring him a small carpet for his work. When the boy located a carpetmaker, the artisan replied that he needed thread. A spinner woman cannot provide him with thread without goat hair to make the thread and the goatkeeper cannot give him goat hair without goats. All of these people say, 'What about me?' Will the boy ever manage to satisfy everyone and get himself a little knowledge at the same time? There's a lot to learn from this Middle Eastern fable, and much enjoyment to be found in Mr. Young's art.

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