BookDragon Books for the Diverse Reader

Joha Makes a Wish: A Middle Eastern Tale adapted by Eric A. Kimmel, illustrated by Omar Rayyan

Joha Makes a WishSometimes the simplest things are beyond understanding … exactly because of their simplicity.

While resting against a crumbling old wall, Joha happens upon a wishing stick … but everything he wishes for has exactly the opposite results. He gets himself in trouble again and again, eventually ending up in the sultan’s court after carrying a donkey on his back all the way there.

When he tries to wish away the sultan’s little wart on his not-so-little nose, Joha only manages to get himself condemned. He flees the guards, and finds a wise shopkeeper who finally shows him what he’s been doing wrong … Finally aware, Joha carefully returns to the sultan to fix that – uh … growing … nasal problem … and is not so unhappy to lose the wishing stick to the greedy sultan. The sultan, alas, doesn’t have the wise man to show him the right way … and his wishes are anything but fulfilling …

“Joha tales,” writer Eric Kimmel explains in the introductory note, “are known throughout the Arabic-speaking world.” He suggests that Don Quixote’s faithful sidekick, Pancho Villa, just might be an incarnation of Joha, influenced by the six years Cervantes spent as a Turkish prisoner in Algiers.

“Joha stories have much to teach about the thin line between wisdom and foolishness,” Kimmel says. This tale, originally inspired by a Yemeni tale, “The Answered Prayer,” is actually not specifically a Joha story, but Kimmel recognized “Joha’s unique blend of wisdom and foolishness.”

‘Careful of what you wish for’ takes quite an entertaining spin with Kimmel’s words and Omar Rayyan’s delightful pictures. Joha’s comical bewilderment, his silly shock, his sly satisfaction are all captured with such humor and pathos that even parents will want to chuckle over this memorable title again and again – with or without the excuse of your kids!

Readers: Children

Published: 2010


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