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‘We need the literature of other countries to expand our
horizons and stimulate our ideas. Without it, we are not only
diminished, we are starved’
(The Times, Magnus Linklater 29/06/05)
by Taghreed Najjar
Age Range: 6-8
In a beautiful, quiet village on the slopes of the Mountain of Mountains, the inhabitants live in fear. They tiptoe to their fields, talk in hushed voices, and tell their children not to make too much noise in case they disturb the scary and ugly Ghoul who lives in a cave at the top of the mountain.
One day, young Hasan, known as ‘Hasan the Brave’, asks his aunt why everyone is afraid of the ghoul. She tells him it’s a huge animal covered with thick hair, has long claws and sharp teeth, and one eye in the middle of its forehead – a truly fearsome beast. Not satisfied, Hasan asks his parents why everyone is so scared of the ghoul, but they paint just as frightening a picture. Hasan is tired of being frightened all the time and decides to embark on a dangerous mission to find the ghoul. When he finally comes face to face with the monster he’s in for a surprise!
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 favourite food is little boys and girls, – facing your fears, accepting difference and building new friendships. Humour 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 colourful 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.