A highly humorous book about tradition in changing times, bravery, and love, imported from Germany.
In this tale from Syrian-German author Schami, the old storyteller of Damascus used to carry a large, ornate chest on his back, with small holes in it through which children could peek to see scrolled pictures accompanying his stories. In one, he tells of Leyla, the beautiful daughter of a rich farmer, Sami the poor shepherd, and their enduring love in the face of all obstacles put forth by her father against their marriage. Sami manages to fend off robbers with his left hand while rescuing Leyla with his right; he scares lions with his left hand while milking a lioness with his right; and he is challenged to acquire Leyla’s dowry of 300 camels from the herd of the sultan himself! German illustrator Knorr’s jewel-toned illustrations are superbly detailed and sequenced artfully, the tale of Leyla and Sami organized in bordered panels to form an integral part of both plots. The happily-ever-after story of the two lovers always sounds fresh, but as time goes by, some of the images the storyteller uses fade away, and he replaces them with contemporary magazine clippings, playfully affecting the plot. Leyla becomes Colgate, who has “beautiful white teeth,” Sami’s donkey becomes a motorcycle, and he is helped at one point by a clown. The story goes on, becoming “weirder and weirder” as time goes on but still vital and wonderful.
A writing, translation, and illustration masterpiece. (Picture book. 8-12)