Monday, August 25, 2008

My Father's Shop

I'm on vacation this week, so I'll post a few of my older reviews while I try to finish up the 2nd book in the Abarat series.

Ichikawa, Satomi. 2006. My Father's Shop. La Jolla, CA: Kane/Miller. (originally published in Paris by l'ecole de loisirs) ISBN13 9781929132997.


Young Mustafa's father owns a carpet shop in a busy Moroccan marketplace. When Mustafa requests a carpet with a hole in it to keep for himself, his father makes a deal. Mustafa must agree to learn the foreign languages necessary for working in the shop. When the foreign language lessons become boring, Mustafa dashes off into the bazaar wearing his brightly colored carpet, peering through its convenient hole. A similarly attired rooster follows him and Mustafa calls to the rooster in his native tongue, "Kho Kho Hou Houuu!!!" Tourists from France, England, Spain, and Japan offer their own rooster calls, "Co-co-ri-co!" "Qui-qui-ri-qi!" "Cock-a-doodle-doo!" and "Koke-ko-kooo!" Mustafa races back to the shop, carpet flying. Trailing behind him are his new-found feathered friend, and all of the foreign tourists. Not only has he brought many customers to his father's shop, he has learned to speak rooster in five languages as well!


My Father's Shop is a multicultural book in every sense of the word. Although its setting is Morocco, Mustafa interacts with tourists and shoppers from Spain, France, England, and Japan. The book simultaneously points out cultural differences and brings cultures together. Each group of tourists is dressed in the fashion of their country and calls the rooster in their own language; yet all of the rooster calls are similar, and all of the characters delight in Mustafa's garb - a brightly colored carpet over his head with a hole for his eyes.

Japanese born Satomi Ichikawa may seem an unlikely author and illustrator for a book about a Moroccan carpet shop, however, she has lived in Paris for over thirty years. Morocco has a strong French presence, being once a protectorate of France. I have been fortunate enough to have visited Morocco and shopped in the busy Casbah marketplace. Ichikawa's colorful double spread paintings evoke the essence of the bazaar in their bright colors and details. The abundant, richly colored and patterned carpets are warm, typical and inviting, as is the silver teapot for mint tea, a common offering in shops and restaurants. Only the teeming crowds are missing. The locals are depicted in the varying head coverings, robes, sandals and slippers typical for the hot desert climate.

My Father's Shop has an exotic setting, but it is a story of inclusion and humor. The antics of little boy and a rooster are enough to warm the hearts of people from any country. The liner notes on the artwork are sparse, noting only that Ichikawa never attended art school.


"A joyous story that brings people from different cultures together."

2006. "MY FATHER'S SHOP." Kirkus Reviews 74, no. 6: 292-292. MasterFILE Premier, EBSCOhost (accessed June 7, 2007).

"Besides a gentle cultural lesson in how animals sound in different countries, Ichikawa's glowing pictures, with their radiant colors...., present an engaging image of a Moroccan marketplace and of a boy who can find a dozen ways of playing with a rug with a small hole."

DeCandido, GraceAnne. 2006. "My Father's Shop." Booklist 102, no. 12: 102. MasterFILE Premier, EBSCOhost (accessed June 7, 2007).

On the 2007 United States Board on Books for Young People (USBBY) Outstanding International Booklist


My Father's Shop makes an excellent introduction to a study of Morocco, and can also serve as a segue to a lesson on map reading or globes - finding the location of Morocco and the home countries of the tourists.

The colorful carpets can serve as an inspiration for an art class, examining the woven rugs of different cultures.

Public librarians might follow a reading of this story with multicultural or multilingual children's music.

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