In this sweet, O. Henry–like story, a cobbler who is always thinking of others has only one favor to ask: that somebody take just a little time out from Eid preparations to hem his new pants—which are “four fingers too long,” as the book's refrain puts it—so he can wear them to the celebration (the Muslim holiday, and other Arabic words sprinkled throughout the text, are defined in the book's glossary). When it finally dawns on his wife, daughter, and mother how fortunate they are to have the generous, even-tempered Nabeel in their lives, each one in turn takes up a needle and thread—leaving the ever-patient Nabeel with the equivalent of capris. Gilani-Williams's (The Lost Ring) storytelling is brisk and cheery, and any child who has felt relegated to the fringes of a busy, holiday-obsessed household should identify with Nabeel's comic plight. While Roy's (What Should I Make?) crisp ink and paint cartoons don't offer much of a sense of place or culture, her focus on universally domestic details should ensure a broad appeal. Ages 3–7. (Apr.)
Family life is the heart of this upbeat picture book about the Muslim celebration of Eid, which takes place after the fast of Ramadan. Turkish shoemaker Nabeel buys Eid gifts for his family, including a burqa (a garment with a veil) for his wife, a dupalla (long scarf) for his mother, and bangles for his daughter. The shopkeeper also persuades Nabeel to buy himself new pants, but the pants are too long. His wife, mother, and daughter are all too busy cooking for Eid to shorten his pants, so he cuts a few inches off them himself. Later, the women in the house feel guilty, and each secretly trims the pants more, not realizing the trousers' increasingly shortened length. When Nabeel finally puts them on, they only reach his knees. Roy's cheerful gouache, watercolor, and ink illustrations show the bonds among family members as they follow their traditions together. Kids will laugh right along with the loving characters, who sew the missing pants pieces back together to give Nabeel perfectly fitting trousers in the end.
On the day before the celebration of the Muslim holiday of Eid when Ramadan has ended, Nebeel the shoemaker has been busy selling new shoes for the holiday. Now he finally has time to buy special clothes for his family. He needs new pants as well, but all he can find is a pair that is too long. No one has time to shorten his pants, so he does it himself andthen goes out to visit the sick and poor. Meanwhile his wife, his mother, and his daughter all feel ashamed. He is so good that they should shorten his pants for him. Each in turn does, without telling the others. Of course when he puts them on next day, they only reach his knees. After laughing, they all work together to sew the pieces back so they can go to the mosque together. Black india ink drawings and intensely colored gouache paints provide crisp, stylized images of local places and clothing. The illustrations, chiefly single pages and vignettes, are a lighthearted but not comic accompaniment to the folk tale. A glossary is included. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
K-Gr 2—Nabeel's dilemma with his new pants is a familiar sort of predicament borne by simple, good-hearted folks in many strains of folklore. He's a shoemaker whose business has gone well on the eve of Eid, the holiday culminating Ramadan. Purchasing gifts for his family, he also buys new pants to replace his patched trousers. However, they are "four fingers too long." Though his wife, mother, and grown daughter are appreciative of the finery he has bought for them, all are too busy with holiday preparations to shorten the pants. Roy's cheerful folk views, the figures drawn in ink and painted in warm tones of gold, brown, green, and blue, pair beautifully with the economical, repetitive scheme, which soon becomes predictable. Nabeel shortens the pants himself, only to be followed by the three women, each of whom cuts off four inches and hems them again in gratitude for his goodness. The author and illustrator are both from India; the tale is ostensibly Turkish and is sprinkled with Arabic terms, listed in an opening glossary. A fine choice for read-aloud fun, the story is a simple introduction to Muslim culture that will evoke empathetic chuckles when the mishap is discovered as Nabeel dons his knee-length pants on the morning of Eid. The damage is soon repaired in a tale that will pair nicely with Simms Taback's Joseph Had a Little Overcoat (Viking, 1999) and countless other tales of shoemakers and tailors or domestic errors.—Margaret Bush, Simmons College, Boston
Gentle, hardworking Nabeel prepares to celebrate Eid with gifts for his wife, mother and daughter, but he doesn't realize when he also replaces his patched pants with a four-fingers-too-long pair that his family is too busy preparing for the celebration to cut and hem them. What Gilani-Williams tenderly describes and Roy renders in Indian ink and water-based gouache can be readily guessed, making for a simple, satisfying comedy of well-intentioned errors. Wrapped in this description of a loving Muslim family is the importance of graceful appreciation despite immediate irritation. The warm colors and language work well, depicting the family working cooperatively to prepare for the sacred moment, stitching back the cut sections until Nabeel's new pants are both just long enough and ready in time for a walk to the mosque for the celebration after the last day of Ramadan. (glossary) (Picture book. 6-8)