Riding a Donkey Backwards: Wise and Foolish Tales of Mulla Nasruddin

By: Sean Taylor

Khayaal Theatre

Illustrator: Shirin Adl

Would you like to know how a thief can turn into a donkey? Whether a cow can climb a pole? Or why you should spoon yogurt into a lake? Mulla Nasruddin knows all the answers, and he might also tell you why he rides his donkey backwards. Whether in the guise of an imam in a mosque or a beggar in the street, this trickster is never at a loss for a rejoinder, though it may leave you scratching your head, rolling your eyes, or laughing out loud. Enjoy twenty-one classic tales about a much-loved character from Muslim cultures in a book packed with jokes, riddles, and wisdom and paired with vibrant, theatrical illustrations.

“Meet Mulla Nasruddin.” Glossary. Full-color mixed media illustrations.

ISBN: 9781536205077

JLG Release: Aug 2019


Sensitive Areas: None
Topics: Folklore , Folktale retellings , Mulla Nasruddin , Islamic stories , Muslim culture and heritage

$17.55  Member Price


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Praise & Reviews

Starred or favorable reviews have been received from these periodicals:

Publishers Weekly, Kirkus Reviews, School Library Journal, The Horn Book Magazine

School Library Journal

Humor, trickery, wisdom, and advice—sage and otherwise—infuse this collection of 21 brief tales starring Mulla Nasruddin, a beloved iconic character of Muslim folklore. The simple, clipped narrations are witty and conversational in tone, facilitating successful reading by the target audience and easy-to-comprehend listening (this is a fine read Humor, trickery, wisdom, and advice—sage and otherwise—infuse this collection of 21 brief tales starring Mulla Nasruddin, a beloved iconic character of Muslim folklore. The simple, clipped narrations are witty and conversational in tone, facilitating successful reading by the target audience and easy-to-comprehend listening (this is a fine readaloud for groups). As is true for many anthologies, the quality of the collection is uneven. Some stories are more fully developed than others; in some selections, punch lines may not be as comprehensible; and morals, where they exist, may seem more obscure. Overall, however, the tales succeed, despite the brevity of some (the two shortest stories comprise a mere three and four sentences, respectively), and humor shines through. The colorful, energetic, and often comical mixed media collages are a draw. Characters’ attire, home furnishings and decorations, architectural details, and landscapes suggest a Middle Eastern milieu. Text set against colored background pages heightens visual attractiveness. Additionally, the artwork is notable for inclusiveness, as characters’ skin tones are depicted in various shades of brown. A short glossary is included. Recommended for schools and public libraries. Students may enact and/or illustrate favorite stories or create original Nasruddin tales. Pair the stories with others about tricksters/wise men/fools from other cultures, e.g., Anansi, the Wise Men of Chelm, etc., and have children compare and contrast.

Horn Book

Mulla Nasruddin, as the preface explains, is a pan-Muslim trickster figure who has captivated storytellers for generations and whose actions constantly challenge perceptions, asking readers and listeners to see things in a different light. For example, you may think that Nasruddin is riding his donkey backwards, but in his view, “I’m facing for Mulla Nasruddin, as the preface explains, is a pan-Muslim trickster figure who has captivated storytellers for generations and whose actions constantly challenge perceptions, asking readers and listeners to see things in a different light. For example, you may think that Nasruddin is riding his donkey backwards, but in his view, “I’m facing forward. It’s the donkey who’s facing backwards!” Each of the twenty-one pithy vignettes in this collection imparts a philosophical, ethical, or intellectual conundrum. In “The Other Side,” a man asks Nasruddin, standing on the opposite bank of a river, how he can cross to the other side. Nasruddin, with his usual irascible tone, replies, “What a birdbrain…You are on the other side!” The story “When You Are Dead” asks what one would like said about them at their funeral. Nasruddin’s answer: “Look! He’s moving!” Mixed-media illustra¬tions incorporate texture that makes each vignette an engrossing visual experience. Paper, tissue, felt, yarn, sticks, miniature woven carpets, and beads are combined with other textures that beg to be touched. With his bulbous nose, towering turban, expressive face, four teeth, and fluffy cotton beard that defies gravity, Nasruddin will be sure to elicit giggles from young readers even as they contem¬plate the logical puzzles he poses. A glossary is appended, but no source notes are provided.

Book Details

ISBN

9781536205077

First Release

August 2019

Genre

Fic

Dewey Classification

E

Trim Size

8 1/2" x 10 1/2"

Page Count

48

Accelerated Reader

Level 3.7; Points: 0.5;

Scholastic Reading Counts

N/A

Lexile

Level 580L

Format

Print Book

Edition

Hardcover edition

Publisher

Big Picture Press

Potentially Sensitive Areas

None

Topics

Folklore, Folktale retellings, Mulla Nasruddin, Islamic stories, Muslim culture and heritage,

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