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Mischief in Fez by Eleanor Hoffmann
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Mischief in Fez

by Eleanor Hoffmann

Other authors: Fritz Eichenberg (Illustrator)

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This book recently came up in conversation as something I remembered very fondly from my childhood. I dug it out and re read it, and what luck! I still loved it!

Mousa, son of Muhammed Ali, the most important judge in the city of Fez is very excited when his widowed father marries Fatma Bent Nor, a great beauty from Meknes-of-the-Olives. But Fatma refuses to observe the good luck customs of the house saying "My Meknes is not a city of old fashioned superstitions."

Soon all manner of troubles start to come upon the household, a plague of scorpions, the fountain dries up, things start to go missing. Worst of all Mousa is accused of causing all the trouble! Mousa's African nurse Loualou advises him to go to the marketplace and ask the toubib how to seek the help of the Hidden Ones Who Do No Mischief. Soon Mousa is deep in the hidden world of djinns and afrits, working with a magical fennec fox to set things right again in the household of his father.

Its a short book, less than 100 pages, but full of color and excitement and a wonderful flavor of Morocco. Remarkably, given that it was first published in 1943 it is pretty much entirely free of condescension toward the eastern culture in which it is set. That was the one thing I was afraid of discovering on a reread, but whew. This reads like an affectionate tribute to the storytelling traditions of Muslim culture from someone who knew Morocco well.

I don't know much about this author and it looks like her work is out of print, but this one was certainly a pleasure for me - when I first read it thirty years ago, and again today. ( )
  bunwat | Mar 30, 2013 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Hoffmann, Eleanorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Eichenberg, FritzIllustratorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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