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GENIES, MEANIES, AND MAGIC RINGS by Stephen Mitchell Kirkus Star


Three Tales from The Arabian Nights

adapted by Stephen Mitchell & illustrated by Tom Pohrt

Age Range: 10 - 12

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 2007
ISBN: 978-0-8027-9639-4
Publisher: Walker

The creators of The Wishing Bone: and Other Poems (2003) offer two gently massaged chestnuts and a lesser-known bonbon from various versions of Arabian Nights. Sandwiched by “Ali Baba” and a full rendition of “Aladdin,” Mitchell’s retelling of “Abu Keer and Abu Seer”—which he suggests from internal evidence is “the most modern of all the tales”—puts a scheming Egyptian dyer and a kindly, forgiving barber through several sudden and severe reversals of fortune. Though he does slip in the occasional anachronistic touch, such as a feast in “Aladdin” that includes “crystal bowls filled with pistachio, almond, cherry-chocolate, and mocha-chip ice cream,” most of Mitchell’s additions to the three stories are seamless. And he tells each tale in a fluid prose that is divided into short chapters and largely free of the usual heavy-handed ornamental flourishes. Following Mitchell’s (and Sir Richard Burton’s) lead, Pohrt gives Aladdin Chinese features in his finely detailed illustrations, and endows all of his figures, even the genies, with distinct, animated personalities. Rich in danger, intrigue and astonishing acts of largesse, these celebrations of loyalty, courage and generosity are as entertaining as they are edifying. (extensive source notes) (Folktales. 10-12)