Most of these tales will be unfamiliar to American children, making this most welcome, as well as necessary for any folklore...

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THE WISE FOOL

FABLES FROM THE ISLAMIC WORLD

Twenty-two short, entertaining and instructive tales, selected from many told about Mulla Nasruddin, introduce this wise fool known across the Islamic world from the Middle East to western China.

Known also as Khoja (or a variant of that respectful title), Nasruddin is sometimes judge, sometimes trickster and sometimes figure of fun who may once have been real, a 13th-century Turkish mystic. He’s here brought to a Western audience by an author who remembers these tales from her childhood in India and Pakistan and an illustrator whose collage work recalls the colors, patterns and perspectives of Persian and Indian miniatures. The stories are short, most no more than a page or two; the morals are unstated. They’re set on full-bleed double-page spreads or opposite framed pictures in vibrant colors—blues, reds, yellow-golds and greens. Among the geometrical designs and patterns, flat perspectives and frames from which some details escape, Mulla is easily recognizable with his beard, hooked nose and turban. Readers and storytellers looking for a particular one will find this compilation easy to use, with its numbered pages and a table of contents. This handsome retelling concludes with a glossary and list of the author’s sources.

Most of these tales will be unfamiliar to American children, making this most welcome, as well as necessary for any folklore collection. (Folklore. 7 & up)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-84686-226-7

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Barefoot

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2011

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Ordinary kids in an extraordinary setting: still a recipe for bright achievements and belly laughs.

WAYSIDE SCHOOL BENEATH THE CLOUD OF DOOM

Rejoice! 25 years later, Wayside School is still in session, and the children in Mrs. Jewls’ 30th-floor classroom haven’t changed a bit.

The surreal yet oddly educational nature of their misadventures hasn’t either. There are out-and-out rib ticklers, such as a spelling lesson featuring made-up words and a determined class effort to collect 1 million nail clippings. Additionally, mean queen Kathy steps through a mirror that turns her weirdly nice and she discovers that she likes it, a four-way friendship survives a dumpster dive after lost homework, and Mrs. Jewls makes sure that a long-threatened “Ultimate Test” allows every student to show off a special talent. Episodic though the 30 new chapters are, there are continuing elements that bind them—even to previous outings, such as the note to an elusive teacher Calvin has been carrying since Sideways Stories From Wayside School (1978) and finally delivers. Add to that plenty of deadpan dialogue (“Arithmetic makes my brain numb,” complains Dameon. “That’s why they’re called ‘numb-ers,’ ” explains D.J.) and a wild storm from the titular cloud that shuffles the school’s contents “like a deck of cards,” and Sachar once again dishes up a confection as scrambled and delicious as lunch lady Miss Mush’s improvised “Rainbow Stew.” Diversity is primarily conveyed in the illustrations.

Ordinary kids in an extraordinary setting: still a recipe for bright achievements and belly laughs. (Fiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-296538-7

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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The inevitable go-to for Percy’s legions of fans who want the stories behind his stories.

PERCY JACKSON'S GREEK GODS

Percy Jackson takes a break from adventuring to serve up the Greek gods like flapjacks at a church breakfast.

Percy is on form as he debriefs readers concerning Chaos, Gaea, Ouranos and Pontus, Dionysus, Ariadne and Persephone, all in his dude’s patter: “He’d forgotten how beautiful Gaea could be when she wasn’t all yelling up in his face.” Here they are, all 12 Olympians, plus many various offspring and associates: the gold standard of dysfunctional families, whom Percy plays like a lute, sometimes lyrically, sometimes with a more sardonic air. Percy’s gift, which is no great secret, is to breathe new life into the gods. Closest attention is paid to the Olympians, but Riordan has a sure touch when it comes to fitting much into a small space—as does Rocco’s artwork, which smokes and writhes on the page as if hit by lightning—so readers will also meet Makaria, “goddess of blessed peaceful deaths,” and the Theban Teiresias, who accidentally sees Athena bathing. She blinds him but also gives him the ability to understand the language of birds. The atmosphere crackles and then dissolves, again and again: “He could even send the Furies after living people if they committed a truly horrific crime—like killing a family member, desecrating a temple, or singing Journey songs on karaoke night.”

The inevitable go-to for Percy’s legions of fans who want the stories behind his stories. (Mythology. 10-14)

Pub Date: Aug. 19, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-8364-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2014

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