Riding a Donkey Backwards
Sean Taylor & Khayaal Theatre
Otter-Barry Books, 2018
48pp., hbk., RRP $A27.99
The full title of this book is Riding a Donkey Backwards: Wise and Foolish Tales of Mulla Nasruddin, a traditional beloved Muslim storyteller known as Hodja in Turkey, Afandi in Central Asia, Joha in the Arabic world and Mulla Nasruddin to millions of other Muslims. His stories make the listeners laugh, think and maybe “even make your thoughts do somersaults inside your mind!”
Therefore to have a collection of traditional stories so well-told and beautifully illustrated that not only opens up a whole new world of stories for our students but also allows a large percentage of our school populations to see their stories alongside the common English ones like Cinderella et al, is a gift. This is the first collection of these stories that has been published for a young Western audience.
So, why does Nasruddin spoon yoghurt into the river? Why does he paint a picture that is blank? Is he crazy to move into the house of the man who’s just burgled him? And why does he ride his donkey backwards? The answers are in the stories, each just a page or so long with stunning illustrations, and each very funny and often with a strong underlying message that makes so much sense and which will provoke discussion and debate.
Stories are what binds a culture together; these ones will help cross the divide between them.