Synopses & Reviews
Meet Goha, that funny little man with the faithful donkey, whose tales, beloved for their wit and wisdom, have been passed down through the streets of the smallest villages of the Middle East for centuries. Meet Goha, who in making us laugh at him, shows us—young and old everywhere— that we can laugh at ourselves.
Collected by one of the Middle East’s most prestigious translators and illustrated in whimsical handsewn khimeyas, this is a joyful celebration of the best of Goha, one of folklore’s most unexpected and beloved heroes.
"The 15 tales in this collection belong to a Middle Eastern oral tradition about a wise fool who sometimes bears the brunt of his neighbors and sometimes outwits them. Each story contains a full-page illustration crafted by an uncle-nephew team of Cairo tentmakers; the collaborators create a khimeya, a hand-sewn quilted scene featuring Goha, dressed in dark pants, gold-tinted shoes and shirt, and green belt and turban. They fashion buildings, furniture, mats and animals from artfully cut, colorful fabrics, which contrast brightly with the straw-colored background; strategically placed black-threaded lines add a three-dimensional quality. In 'Goha and the Shoes,' readers laugh with Goha. He subverts his uninvited guests' plan to trick him into providing lunch by selling their shoes (left outside his door) to pay for the meal ('Your shoes... are now in your stomachs!' says he). Other stories will prompt laughter at the unlikely hero, as with 'Goha Counts His Donkeys': the fellow counts 12 animals when he stands, but only 11 when he mounts. In perhaps the most familiar story, Goha and his son respond to the unsolicited criticism of passersby on a trip to a nearby town: first Goha rides the donkey while his son walks, then they switch places, then both ride, and finally, they carry the donkey. Goha's moral: 'In life, it is impossible to please everyone.' These charming stories provide both a fine introduction to a cultural tradition and a welcome reminder that stories can be a universal pleasure. Ages 5-up." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"The stories contain interesting cultural insights about a part of the world unknown to many in the Western Hemisphere, while yielding universal truths. Although there is a variety of curricular possibilities, children would undoubtedly enjoy comparing this folk hero to his cousins Jack, Anansi, Coyote, or Brer Rabbit. And as a guidebook to survival strategies for challenging situations, there is none better." -School Library Journal, starred review
"In this spirited collaboration, a Middle Eastern trickster-fool is strikingly presented to American children. [E]ach scene exudes a comical energy… that will instantly put kids in a giggling mood." —Booklist, starred review
Collected by one of the Middle East's most prestigious translators and illustrated in whimsical handsewn "khimeyas," this is a joyful celebration of the best of Goha, one of folklore's most unexpected and beloved heroes. Full color.