The Hungry Coat

Author: Demi
Year: 2004
Genre: Folklore

I was already familiar with this story, one of the better-known of the Turkish stories of Nasreddin Hodja. (It's also one of the more moralistic, reading almost like an Aesop fable where other Hodja stories are whimsical fantasies or even jokes.) What was new to me, though, was Demi's beautiful artwork. Her illustrations are a tribute to the decorative arts of Turkey, from miniature painting to Anatolian rugs and Iznik tiles.

The incorporation of real Turkish art into the illustration shows Demi's respect for the culture that she takes her story from. Unfortunately, the text itself isn't quite so authentic; this version of the story is more moralistic than any other I've encountered. Whether she felt it was necessary for American audiences, for her own aesthetic, or to fill out pages 31-32 of the picture-book format, Demi concludes the story with a two-page spread that restates the moral about three more times. Without the last two pages, it's a beautiful book; with them, it's a beautiful book that teaches you a lesson.

1 comment:

Meaghan said...

As you say, she does a beautiful job of replication traditional Turkish crafts, but that's not explained anywhere in the book. You just have to know.