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The Hungry Coat: A Tale from Turkey Hardcover – June 1, 2004
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From School Library Journal
Kindergarten-Grade 4–Nasrettin Hoca was a renowned 13th-century Turkish philosopher respected for his wisdom, common sense, and humor, elements that are found in the many folktales about him. This story describes how he stopped to assist in the capture of a wayward goat and soiled his already patched coat in the process. He had no time to change before he headed off to a banquet at a rich friend's house, and everyone there avoided him because he was both shabby and smelly. Nasrettin went home, bathed, and dressed in a splendiferous outfit. He returned to the banquet and was greeted warmly. To everyone's astonishment, he proceeded to stuff food into his coat. When questioned, he replied that it was obvious that it was the coat that had been invited, not him. Demi's retelling of this tale is compelling and includes many details that help bring both time and place into focus. Her paint-and-ink illustrations are resplendent with her trademark gold leaf and intricate borders. However, Nasrettin's allegedly shabby coat is the same jewel-toned red as the finer one he later dons, and as the pictures are so small, it's easy to mistake the patches for daubs of gold. Although this minor problem lessens the effect of his transformation, this is still a well-told, visually enticing tale and a first purchase for most libraries. An informative afterword is included.–Grace Oliff, Ann Blanche Smith School, Hillsdale, NJ
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
K-Gr. 3. Delayed by an escaped goat, the Turkish folk hero Nasrettin Hoca attends a friend's banquet clad in a filthy, tattered coat. The host is embarrassed, the guests shun him, and no one serves him food. Nasrettin goes home home, bathes and dresses in his finest clothes, and returns to the banquet, where he stuffs food and wine into his coat. Asked why he feeds his coat, Nasrettin notes his earlier appearance and explains, "This shows it was the coat and not me that you invited to your banquet." An afterword adds background on Hodja folklore but does not cite a source. The well-paced retelling retains the sly, wise humor of traditional Nasrettin tales. Inspired by Turkish art, Demi places miniature figures in frames filled with geometric patterns. It is difficult to distinguish the patches in Nasrettin's shabby coat, but the handsomely dressed Nasrettin stands tall on the only unframed page. An excellent choice for multicultural studies, this wry moral tale transcends time and culture. Linda Perkins
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Top Customer Reviews
Although this is a children's book, I am using it as a piece of a unit on Turkish culture with high school students. They found the story charming and engaging; the visuals are intriguing enough to keep them interesting in a quick class read, but the story is clearly one which with they can relate.
Great book overall!
The main idea and plot were simple and easy to follow. The philosophical teaching of the story came out at the end in that you can't judge a book by its cover, the moral lesson of this tale.
The cultural aspect of the book correctly demonstrated the times and style of dress,and architecture of ancient Turkey in the 1200's.
The ending quote, "He who wears heaven in his heart is always well dressed", portrayed the idea of what the reader is should leave thinking as the story ends.
We wanted something to begin, in a small way, to let our young friend and her family to have a nice experience with another culture. Particularly with Turkish and Eastern Culture.
We have found the vast majority of Turks to be friendly, gracious and thoughtful, but if you only hear about Arab Fundamentalist Terrorists, one can get entirely the wrong idea about the Middle East. Just as not all Americans are like Jeffrey Dahmer, nor all people from the UK like Jack the Ripper.
If you have not seen any of the thoughtful parables from the Middle East, you may enjoy visiting your library or Google. Do a Google > Idries Shah Sufis <. He has several enjoyable collections of Sufi wisdom. And there must be MANY more things available.
"The Hungry Coat" is but a single parable, wonderfully illustrated, while the works by Shaw that I've read are small collections of dozens of parables with few, if any, illustrations.