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 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-399-23624-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2002

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A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift.

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A paean to teachers and their surrogates everywhere.

This gentle ode to a teacher’s skill at inspiring, encouraging, and being a role model is spoken, presumably, from a child’s viewpoint. However, the voice could equally be that of an adult, because who can’t look back upon teachers or other early mentors who gave of themselves and offered their pupils so much? Indeed, some of the self-aware, self-assured expressions herein seem perhaps more realistic as uttered from one who’s already grown. Alternatively, readers won’t fail to note that this small book, illustrated with gentle soy-ink drawings and featuring an adult-child bear duo engaged in various sedentary and lively pursuits, could just as easily be about human parent- (or grandparent-) child pairs: some of the softly colored illustrations depict scenarios that are more likely to occur within a home and/or other family-oriented setting. Makes sense: aren’t parents and other close family members children’s first teachers? This duality suggests that the book might be best shared one-on-one between a nostalgic adult and a child who’s developed some self-confidence, having learned a thing or two from a parent, grandparent, older relative, or classroom instructor.

A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-943200-08-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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The can’t-miss subject of this Step into Reading series entry—a unicorn with a magic horn who also longs for wings—trumps its text, which is dry even by easy-reader standards. A boy unicorn, whose horn has healing powers, reveals his wish to a butterfly in a castle garden, a bluebird in the forest and a snowy white swan in a pond. Falling asleep at the edge of the sea, the unicorn is visited by a winged white mare. He heals her broken wing and she flies away. After sadly invoking his wish once more, he sees his reflection: “He had big white wings!” He flies off after the mare, because he “wanted to say, ‘Thank you.’ ” Perfectly suiting this confection, Silin-Palmer’s pictures teem with the mass market–fueled iconography of what little girls are (ostensibly) made of: rainbows, flowers, twinkly stars and, of course, manes down to there. (Easy reader. 4-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 24, 2006

ISBN: 0-375-83117-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2006

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