The Storyteller of Damascus

tr. from German by Hiltrud Schulz & Michel Moushabeck. illus. by Peter Knorr. 48p. Crocodile. Dec. 2018. Tr $18.95. ISBN 9781623719715.
Gr 1–3—"Many, many years ago, there lived an old man in the old city of Damascus," a storyteller whose tales came to life via a wonder box that he carries in a chest on his back. For only one piaster, children could see "the wonders of the world and brave Sami riding on a lion." Sami, as the children learned, was a young shepherd who accomplished nearly impossible tasks to win the hand of his beloved Leyla, the daughter of the village's richest farmer. Lush, expressive, and detailed illustrations unfold across the spreads or on carefully placed full, bordered pages. That is, until both the old storyteller and the images deteriorate with age. He replaces the faded pictures with ads from magazines and his story becomes weirder and weirder, more and more unbelievable. Although children may not recognize the specifics, they will certainly understand how the story has morphed into something quite different and gently humorous. Originally published in Germany, the German-Syrian author captures the flavor of a traditional tale that changes over time captured in text and illustration.
VERDICT An intriguing and discussable exploration of storytelling for slightly older readers.

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