WHAT ABOUT ME? by Ed Young


by & illustrated by
Age Range: 4 - 7
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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)

Pub Date: June 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-399-23624-4
Page count: 40pp
Publisher: Philomel
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15th, 2002


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