Reviews for Nasreddine

Booklist Reviews 2013 September #1
In this Middle Eastern folktale, a young boy named Nasreddine finds that, as he goes about his daily chores with his father, everything he does meets with someone's disapproval. When he walks behind his father, who rides the donkey, he's criticized for muddying his boots. When he next tries riding the donkey himself while his father trails behind, he's criticized for disrespecting his elders. When he and his father pile on the donkey together, villagers criticize him for making the animal work too hard. The moral here is, of course, that you must be able to determine when someone is offering you genuine wisdom and when they are just blowing hot air. The themes of humiliation and trusting one's own judgment are highly relevant to children, and the Middle Eastern setting serves not only to bring home a necessary message but also to make an unfamiliar culture accessible. Dautremer's art captures a fully authentic Middle Eastern milieu, while the large, rounded heads and stick-thin limbs create a visual style reminiscent of many contemporary cartoons, which deepens the sense of invitation into a foreign world. Copyright 2013 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2013 Fall
In this variant of "The Miller, His Son, and Their Donkey" wise Mustafa uses the story's events to teach his son Nasreddine an important lesson. There's a culture-revealing specificity in the repartee and the goods they're taking to market (dates, wool, chickens), and the art is vibrant with organic-looking architecture and creative perspectives.

Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2013 #3
Variants of "The Miller, His Son, and Their Donkey" date back at least to the Middle Ages and to traditional Middle Eastern tales. Here Nasreddine is the son of wise Mustafa, who uses the story's events to teach the boy an important lesson. Four times the two set out for market with their donkey; each time passersby complain: "A lazy man...makes his son slosh through the mud"; but when "children ride, and their elders walk...Fathers don't have any authority." Each time, Nasreddine is so disheartened by the criticism that he runs home. He suggests that they both ride, only to have old men complain that "some people can be so horrible to their animals"; when both walk, children laugh at them. There's a culture-revealing specificity in the goods they're taking to market (dates, wool, chickens), in the critics, in the repartee, and in such details as Nasreddine walking barefoot to save his slippers from the mud. In Dautremer's comical and evocative art, double-page-spread scenes, vibrant with organic-looking architecture and creative perspectives, alternate with pages of expressively elongated figures on pure white. In the end what Nasreddine learns is explicit -- "You can't be afraid that other people will judge you" -- but it's a truth Mustafa has wisely let him discover for himself. An entertaining variant on a familiar tale, gentler in action yet more pointed in meaning. (The brief, generalized note gives no specific source.) joanna rudge long

Kirkus Reviews 2013 February #2
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) Copyright Kirkus 2013 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2013 February #2

Dautremer's (The Secret Lives of Princesses) evocative spreads of Middle Eastern marketplace life lend a meditative air to French author Weulersse's version of an ancient tale, which casts the legendary wise man as a boy. No matter how Nasreddine and his father, Mustafa, make the trip to market--father on donkey, son on foot; son on donkey, father on foot; both on donkey; neither on donkey--idling onlookers find fault in their choice. "A lazy man who lounges and makes his son slosh through the mud!" clucks a vizier. "Your words, sir, are hurting my ears," Mustafa always replies, unruffled. He watches with sweet acceptance as Nasreddine dreams up new ways to get to market that he thinks will avoid criticism. Dautremer's scenes contrast the narrow, shadowed alleyways of the market and its gossips with the inviting, grassy fields beyond. The effect is of a slow, philosophical working-out of the wisdom: "It's up to you to decide if what you're hearing is wise, or if it's only a silly and hurtful remark." The portrait of a father's gentle acceptance of his son's insecurity is a welcome gift, too. Ages 4-9. (Mar.)

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School Library Journal Reviews 2013 May

Gr 1-3--One day, Nasreddine and his father, Mustafa, a wise and patient man, load a basket of dates on their donkey's back to take to market. Mustafa rides, and the boy walks behind. A powerful vizier sees them and criticizes Mustafa as "a lazy man who lounges and makes his son slosh through the mud!" Nasreddine is embarrassed so a few weeks later he feigns a twisted ankle so that he can ride on the donkey while they take wool to the weavers. However, several women see him on the donkey and his father walking behind. "Fathers don't have any authority at all….No one respects older folks anymore," they say. Next time, they both ride on the donkey, along with a rooster and hens in a cage. Now they are criticized for being cruel to the animals. When Nasreddine decides that the only way to end the criticism is to carry the donkey to market, Mustafa gently explains his mistake. "People can always find a way to criticize you if they want to….It's up to you to decide if what you're hearing is wise or if it's only a silly and hurtful remark." This story, illustrated in ink and earth-toned watercolors, is based on traditional stories told throughout the Middle East. The writing style, with its subtle humor, repetition, and lesson, follows the familiar folktale format. A fine addition for most children's collections.--Roxanne Burg, Orange County Public Library, CA

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