A frustrated genie can’t fulfill the wish of an “already rich” man in this picture book from Lewinson (What Do You Call It?, 2016, etc.), illustrated by Nailon (Zen the Zebra, 2015, etc.).
A dark-skinned man discovers a magical bottle on the beach and releases the genie from within. The oversized, muscular djinn offers the man money, riches, world landmarks, tame white tigers, planets, and galaxies, and finally, in exasperation, “A coffee?” But each time, the man refuses, explaining that he’s already rich and doesn’t need those things. The man finally explains, after sending the genie back to his bottle, that he’s rich because he has a daughter. Nailon’s colorful illustrations are best when the genie looms large (sometimes really large) over the scene. Unfortunately, the man’s age is ambiguous until the end: his goatee and lithe form, dressed in shorts and a collared shirt, make him seem like a teenager. Also, although the text says he found a bottle, the drawings show a brass lamp. Those are minor quibbles, however, as Nailon’s illustrations are charming, combining textured, cartoonish images with stylized photos. Lewinson’s moral may appeal more to parents than children, but the depth of the father’s love will stick with young readers.
A solid twist on the genie story that reinforces the importance of family over material things.