Nearly Nonsense

Hoja Tales from Turkey
Gr 2 Up—Turkey has a particularly vibrant oral tradition, and the stories of Nasrudin Hoja—a foolish/wise man—are legion and deservedly popular. Many of Hoja's adventures are similar to those found in other Middle Eastern cultures, but they never grow old. When he and his son take their donkey to market, they are ridiculed whether they ride, walk, or carry the animal on their backs, proving that you can't please everyone. When Hoja wears fancy clothing, he is treated more deferentially than when he wears patched clothing, so he "feeds" his coat to show the error of his host's behavior. Lesser-known stories are also included. Though some Turkish tales have been recently published in individual picture-book editions, this is the first collection suitable for young readers since Barbara Walker's A Treasury of Turkish Folk Tales for Children, (Linnett, 1988). Singh's book is much less inclusive than Walker's, but it has the advantage of a more open format and full-color, cartoon illustrations, which may appeal more to young children than the earlier, more scholarly-looking books. These retellings are unembellished, but their humor and intention are clear. Every school and public library collection should include some Turkish folktales, and this title is a decent way to fill a gap.—Miriam Lang Budin, Chappaqua Public Library, NY

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