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NASREDDINE by Odile Weulersse


by Odile Weulersse ; illustrated by Rebecca Dautremer ; translated by Kathleen Merz

Age Range: 6 - 8

Pub Date: March 1st, 2013
ISBN: 978-0-8028-5416-2
Publisher: Eerdmans

The beloved character of Nasreddin Hodja is usually portrayed as a man in Turkish and Middle Eastern folklore, but here, the wise fool is a youngster.

This story presents a series of scenarios in which Nasreddine changes his behavior after hearing judgments uttered by various onlookers. Nasreddine tries to help his father get their products to market on their donkey, but a vizier sees him following the donkey and insults them by saying that Mustafa should allow the boy to ride the donkey. When they change places on their next ride into town, old women decry the boy’s selfish behavior. When Nasreddine decides that they should both ride, old men drinking frozen lemonade (what century is this?) are concerned about the animal. Children laugh at them when they allow the donkey to carry only watermelons while father and son both walk. With Mustafa’s gentle teaching, the boy realizes that he alone must judge the validity of other people’s criticisms. A little slower and more didactic than most Hodja stories, this may suffer from a stiff translation from the French original. The handsome watercolors, blending a timeless Turkish landscape with more contemporary-looking signs, exaggerate the difference between the tall, proud Mustafa and the tiny, embarrassed Nasreddine.

This view of the Hodja as a child offers a different pathway into the popular stories. (historical  note) (Picture book/folk tale. 6-8)