BookDragon Books for the Diverse Reader

Nasreddine by Odile Weulersse, illustrated by Rébecca Dautremer

NasreddineHere’s the perfect companion to Mar Pavón and Nívola Uyá’s A Very, Very Noisy Tractor which posted Saturday.

Young Nasreddine’s answers his father Mustafa’s request to ready the donkey for their journey to the market. Mustafa and their large sack of dates sit atop the donkey, while a shoeless Nasreddine follows behind in an attempt to keep his slippers clean. Of course, the passing vizier has something to say about that, calling Mustafa lazy for making “his son slosh through the mud.” Mustafa merely replies, “‘Your words, sir, are hurting my ears,'” but Nasreddine’s embarrassment sends him home full of shame.

The next week, the patient donkey bears young Nasreddine who claims a twisted ankle, along with wool to be transported to the weavers. Along the way, nearby women washing clothes voice their opinion about overprivileged children who make their elders walk: “‘Fathers have no authority at all.'” Mustafa calmly offers the same reply: “‘Your words, women, are hurting my ears.'” But, alas, that hurt is amplified in embarrassed Nasreddine.

A few days later, another trip elicits further unsolicited comments. And another week later, even more. And so on and on. Finally, having tried every permutation of father, son, and beast, Mustafa gently addresses his son: “‘I’ve let you do as you wish until now, but today you need to understand your mistake … It’s up to you to decide if what you’re hearing is wise, or if it’s only a silly and hurtful remark.'” Young Nasreddine’s understanding is “triumphant,” and surely a lesson to learn well for us all.

Nasreddine apparently has much wisdom to impart: “Stories about Nasreddine are told throughout the Middle East and beyond. They are often said to be based on a real man who lived in Turkey during the Middle Ages,” the ending historical note explains. “The stories have been changed and added to over the years, but Nasreddine has never lost his ability to offer both wisdom and delight.”

French author Odile Weurlersse (who also teaches film at the legendary Sorbonne) and French illustrator Rébecca Dautremer surely increase the delight factor with an absolutely enchanting literary presentation balancing just the right repetitive text with ineffable illustrations. Nasreddine’s thoughtful expressions, Mustafa’s tender responses exponentially enhance the story, certainly emphasizing the much-appreciated wisdom with utter delight.

Readers: Children

Published: 2013 (United States)


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