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by Vi Hughes & illustrated by Stefan Czernecki

Pub Date: June 1st, 2001
ISBN: 1-56656-456-5
Publisher: Crocodile/Interlink

In her debut for children, Hughes crafts a convincing tale to explain the storyteller’s art and its transmission from one generation to the next. Tea-stained pages provide the backdrop for Czernecki’s (Huevos Rancheros, not reviewed, etc.) heavy, black-ink line drawings which depict Aziz as he enters the marketplace with his aging father. There to sell carpets, Aziz collects stories instead. “If you do not help me,” says his father, “who will provide for me when I am old?” Despite his best intentions, Aziz fails to make any sales. Then, one day, the storyteller approaches: “ ‘Will you trade your donkey for this enchanted rug?’ ” he asks. When the storyteller explains that the carpet, into which “all the stories of the world are woven,” will allow him to support his father through storytelling, Aziz agrees to the trade. But when his father voices his disapproval Aziz returns to the market to find the storyteller and undo the deal. Unsuccessful, Aziz does the only thing he can: he unrolls the carpet and rests. To his surprise, the carpet unravels story after story, crowds gather, and coins rain down from the heavens. Even his father hears his stories and joyfully accepts Aziz’s new vocation. Hughes draws the story to its natural conclusion as Aziz travels westward and eventually passes the carpet along to a younger storyteller, just as he was instructed to do so many years ago. It’s a good yarn, the only flaw being the design: modeled after Arabic lettering, the stylized print—accented and punctuated in red—strains the eye. (Picture book. 5-8)