"The people of Hasan's village on the Mountain of Mountains tiptoe, whisper, and shush the children: 'Do not laugh. Smile only so that you do not disturb the ghoul.' But Hasan is skeptical; though stories of the ghoul abound, no one has ever seen it, and it has only allegedly eaten any village children, so he sets off to discover if it is real. It is, though there's a surprise: the ghoul is terrified of humans, who are purported to eat ghouls. After Hasan and the ghoul get to know each other (turns out the ghoul is a vegetarian), their friendship becomes a reminder to the villagers 'to celebrate their differences and never let fear rule them again.' Manasra's colorful illustrations combine sharp angles and soft brushy sweeps to humorously conjure admonishing residents of a bustling village, a dauntless child, and a one-eyed purple beastie with long yellow claws. Ages 3-8
A stimulating and funny fantasy about acceptance ' The story of Hasan, a young and courageous boy from a small village who decides to brave the unknown. Inspired by Arab folklore, the story revolves around life in a quiet and peaceful village somewhere in Arabia, where the only thing disturbing the surrounding peace is the ghoul living up the mountain--a monster everyone dreads and fears. While nobody has actually seen it, all the villagers are worried that it might eat children, so they tiptoe and whisper lest they draw its attention. Perplexed by the idea of a monster that nobody has seen or heard, Hasan decides to defy his parents and investigate for himself. To his surprise, he finds a creature that is just as afraid of humans as they are of it, an estranged being who will not venture down the mountain out of fear of these humans who look so much different. After sharing their mutual misconceptions, Hasan and the ghoul realize that they can still be friends despite their differences. Children will giggle at both the ghoul's physical ridiculousness (it looks like a shaggy purple cyclops with an endearingly goofy grin) and the colloquy that reveals important truths: But 'ghouls are vegetarians.' This Jordanian import has great potential to serve caregivers and educators in facilitating discussions about perceiving and more importantly, accepting the 'other' despite differences and initial assumptions. (Picture book. 3-8).
K-Gr 2: A young boy goes in search of a fearsome monster but finds a friend instead in this modern folktale about prejudice. Translated from Arabic, this is the story of Hasan the Brave, who, like everyone in his village, lives in constant fear of a 'scary, ugly' monster. Not satisfied with his family's answers about the creature, Hasan hikes to the mountaintop to see it firsthand. To his surprise, the ghoul (a one-eyed hairy purple creature) is a peaceful vegetarian and is just as scared of his human neighbors as they are of him! Hasan and the ghoul return to town as best friends and the ghoul is welcomed and loved by the villagers ... The villagers live in terror (tiptoeing around, speaking only in whispers) despite the ghoul never having harmed a soul. Later, the ghoul is quick to conclude, 'it is true that you look strange and different, but you are nice.' The artwork is colorful, lively, and evocative, with stylized faces. Manasra makes excellent and engaging use of the page, from full-page bleeds to action-packed panels ... the message is sincere and the book is a very welcome representation of a traditional Arab tale.
“Taghreed Najjar is a Palestinian-Jordanian writer and publisher and pioneer of modern children’s literature in the Arab world. The Ghoul is a heart-warming story, translated from Arabic by Michel Moushabeck, which has been inspired by Arabic folk tales. It deals with misconceptions—the villagers have never heard of anyone being hurt by the ghoul although they believe his favorite food is little boys and girls—facing your fears, accepting difference and building new friendships. Humor pervades the text, particularly Hasan’s encounter with the ghoul and in a lovely twist it is revealed he’s as afraid of the villagers as they are of him and he’s a vegetarian! The colorful and edgy illustrations by Jordanian-born artist Hassan Manasra bring this story to life. His expressive and comic artwork is full of vibrancy and movement. Children are sure to enjoy this engaging tale and find plenty to giggle at.”
“The story is a good reminder of the nature of fear and the misunderstandings created by false and unwarranted assumptions about those whom we perceive as the ‘other.’ It is also sobering to be confronted with the idea that we can actually be perceived as monstrous, too, and our insularity feeds off that notion even further … I loved the narrative … I was deeply taken by the art, too.”
– Gathering Books