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The Hungry Coat: A Tale from Turkey    by Demi order for
Hungry Coat
by Demi
Order:  USA  Can
Margaret K. McElderry, 2004 (2004)
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Demi brings 'once upon a time' Turkey brilliantly to life in this clever story of Nasrettin Hoca - 'a funny, little wise man' who rode a little gray donkey, liked to help people, and wore a huge, white turban and a very patched coat. I've read many tales of this wise fool (known also as Mulla Nasrudin) and love this one. The bright detail in Demi's drawings remind me of Persian miniaturist paintings.

Nasrettin is on his way to a rich friend's banquet, when he stops to help catch a goat that's disrupting dinner preparations at a caravansary. Late, he has no time to change his tattered coat, which also now smells of goat. At dinner, he's ignored by guests and servants alike. So he goes home and cleans up, returning in 'a fine new coat of shining silk with golden threads ... How fine he looked!' Back at the banquet, everything changes; he is suddenly very popular and is offered all he wants to eat from the feast.

Nasrettin begins to feed his dinner to the coat - lamb and fish, eggplant and pistachio nuts, sherbet and baklava, and more. Can you guess why he fed the coat, and what he said when his host enquired? The Hungry Coat teaches an important lesson, that 'a coat does not make a man'. An Afterword tells more about Nasrettin Hoca, and I certainly hope that Demi will present more of his clever, funny stories to us!

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