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Never Say a Mean Word Again: A Tale from Medieval Spain
This site includes Never Say a Mean Word Again: A Tale from Medieval Spain’s pictures, reviews, and more.
Never Say a Mean Word Again: A Tale from Medieval Spain
Never Say a Mean Word Again: A Tale from Medieval Spain
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Children’s Books

Price:  $16.95

ISBN:  978-1-937786-20-5
Book Size:  8" × 10"
# of Pages:  32
Language:  English



Description
“Make sure Hamza never says another mean word to you,” Samuel’s father orders. What should Samuel do? His father is Grand Vizier, the most important advisor in the royal court. No one disobeys the Vizier. But how can Samuel make sure Hamza will never insult him again? Inspired by a powerful legend of conflict resolution in Muslim Spain, this is the story of a boy who accidentally turns an enemy into a friend. This charming tale is told from the point of view of Samuel, and follows him on his perplexing quest to deal with an angry child who he will have to see every day. The surprise solution unfolds so naturally that readers are tempted to laugh along with Samuel and his previous enemy!

The story, crafted by well-known author Jacqueline Jules, rings true as a timeless puzzle faced by children of all ages: How to deal with an aggressor? The extraordinary illustrations by Ms. Bernhard, based on historical research of the time and place, evoke the spirit of Andalusian Spain. Through her knowledge of boys of all ages, Bernhard was also able to capture the spirit of two lively and very different young boys who could just as easily have lived today as in medieval Spain!

AWARDS

  • Chosen as an Honor Book in the 2015 Sydney Taylor Book Awards, “Younger Reader” category (sponsored by the Association of Jewish Libraries)
  • Finalist of the 2014 National Jewish Book Awards in the category “Illustrated Children’s Books” (sponsored by the Jewish Book Council)
  • 2014 Aesop Accolade, awarded by the Children’s Folklore Section of the American Folklore Society
  • Finalist in the “Children's Picture Book: Hardcover Fiction” category of the USA “Best Books 2014” Awards
  • Honorable Mention in the “Picture Book” category of the 2014 Middle East Book Awards
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Details on “Never Say a Mean Word Again”

“Make sure Hamza never says another mean word to you,” Samuel’s father orders.

What should Samuel do? His father is Grand Vizier, the most important advisor in the royal court. No one disobeys the Vizier. But how can Samuel make sure Hamza will never insult him again? Inspired by a powerful legend of conflict resolution in Muslim Spain, Never Say a Mean Word Again is the story of a boy who accidentally turns an enemy into a friend.

This charming multi-cultural tale is told from the point of view of Samuel, and follows him on his perplexing quest to deal with an angry child he will have to see every day. The surprise solution unfolds so naturally that readers are tempted to laugh along with Samuel and his previous enemy!

The story crafted by well-known author Jacqueline Jules rings true as a timeless puzzle faced by children of all ages: How to deal with an aggressor? The extraordinary illustrations by Ms. Bernhard, based on historical research of the time and place, evoke the spirit of Andalusian Spain. Through her knowledge of boys of all ages, Bernhard was also able to capture the spirit of two lively and very different young boys who could just as easily have lived today as in medieval Spain.

AWARDS

  • Chosen as an Honor Book in the 2015 Sydney Taylor Book Awards, “Younger Reader” category (sponsored by the Association of Jewish Libraries)
  • Finalist of the 2014 National Jewish Book Awards in the category “Illustrated Children’s Books” (sponsored by the Jewish Book Council)
  • 2014 Aesop Accolade, awarded by the Children’s Folklore Section of the American Folklore Society.
  • Finalist in the “Children's Picture Book: Hardcover Fiction” category of the USA “Best Books 2014” Awards
  • Honorable Mention in the “Picture Book” category of the 2014 Middle East Book Awards


The Author and Illustrator of this book

Jacqueline Jules

Jacqueline Jules is a prolific writer of children’s books, a poet, a teacher, and a librarian. Her literary output is impressive: She has written over 20 books for children, including her Zapato Power series and several that have won awards. Ms. Jules’s sensitivity to themes that engage children is evident in her choice of topics such as being away at camp, being at a new school and unable to communicate in English, being from a different culture in America, and so on. Her skill at retelling religious stories comes through in her series of bible stories. Jacqueline Jules’s has contributed two books to our Wisdom Tales imprint. The first was the multi-award-winning Never Say a Mean Word Again: A Tale from Medieval Spain, which was illustrated by Durga Yael Bernhard. Ms. Jules’s most recent contribution is Feathers for Peacock, beautifully illustrated by Helen Cann.

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Durga Yael Bernhard

D. Yael Bernhard is a busy writer and illustrator of books on many subjects, primarily for children. She has illustrated the Wisdom Tales book Never Say a Mean Word Again, which was written by Jacqueline Jules. Another book featuring Ms. Bernhard’s sense of color, design, fun, and different places and times is The Dreidel That Wouldn’t Spin: A Toyshop Tale of Hanukkah, written by Martha Seif Simpson. D. Yael Bernhard is now working on another book for Wisdom Tales that she has also written (in verse) as well as illustrated. It is about the sense of wonder and adventure a child would experience climbing some exotic trees of the world.

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Reviews of “Never Say a Mean Word Again”

“Inspired by a legend about a Jewish vizier who advised the Muslim ruler of medieval Spain, this story tells of a conundrum faced by a boy named Samuel and the counterintuitive wisdom of his father, the vizier. After Samuel accidentally offends Hamza, the tax collector’s son, and incurs his rage (‘Donkey Brain! Stupid! Look what you did!’), Samuel’s father instructs him, ‘Make sure Hamza never says a mean word to you again.’ With illuminating details—such as the boys’ headwear, backdrops of thick stone walls or heavy wooden doors, geometric patterns in mauves and browns, and a vine and flower motif—Bernhard’s (Around the World in One Shabbat) illustrations convey an elegant, multicultural castle environment. Energy and movement infuse the paintings, which humorously render Samuel’s contemplated strategies (‘Maybe he could train a monkey to sit on Hamza’s shoulders. The monkey could clamp Hamza’s lips shut’). Jules’s (the Zapato Power series) down-to-earth narrative communicates Samuel’s subtle internal transformation as the unexpected, amusing, and touching outcomes of his attempts to obey his father turn a power struggle into a budding friendship. Ages 4–8.”
Publishers Weekly (starred review)



“A story of bullying, acceptance, and friendship, Never Say a Mean Word Again: A Tale from Medieval Spain, by Jacqueline Jules, is loosely inspired by a legend about a Jewish poet who was the vizier and military commander to the Muslim caliph (or king). It is a delightful account of turning meanness and rudeness into kindness and friendship.…

“Jules has crafted a folk tale that is sure to please. She writes in a gracious and enjoyable way, with simplicity and humor, as evidenced in one of Samuel’s dismissed ideas: “Maybe he could train a monkey to sit on Hamza’s shoulders. The monkey could clamp Hamza’s lips shut. Training a monkey would take time. And where would he get a monkey?” This wonderful story is basic enough for young children to follow, and entertaining for adults.

“Durga Yael Bernhard has constructed appealing acrylic illustrations, with Moorish-influenced designs. Her muted color choices and smooth designs complement the text wonderfully, calmly propelling the story forward.

“The cover is designed with the title in the center, two boys (Samuel and Hamza) on either side of the title, all in the middle of an illustrated design. The back cover gives a short synopsis of the book inside of the similar design on the front, giving the book a cohesive feeling. The internal layout is pleasant and easy to follow, with a striking font that is easy to read, and perfectly accompanied by the illustrations. The book ends with an author’s note about the origins of the story, and information about the time and place of the historical events.

“A moral tale of friendship, Never Say a Mean Word Again: A Tale from Medieval Spain, has an admirable story guided by marvelous illustrations that will inspire children and adults.”
Beth VanHouten, from a review in ForeWord Reviews



“Rare is the children’s book that, by virtue of its illustrations and story, can be vaulted into the ranks of the classics, those stories such as Where the Wild Things Are that can cross across generational divides and hold up to the discerning tastes of ever-fickle toddlers.

Never Say a Mean Word Again has the potential to join these greats.

“Inspired by a medieval legend about the Jewish poet Samuel Ha-Nagid, the highest royal adviser in Muslim-controlled Granada, Jacqueline Jules’ prose — backed by the rich illustrations of Durga Yael Bernhard — tells the story of the grand vizier’s son, Samuel, who struggles against the wiles of Hamza, the insolent son of the tax collector. His father’s sole advice? ‘Make sure Hamza never says a mean word to you again.’

“While at first the boy wants to extract punishment, in time he befriends Hamza; indeed, the two boys never again fall prey to conflict.

“It’s a tale of peace badly needed in the troubled hours known as bedtime. But be forewarned: One of the childhood insults mentioned in the book will for sure have your kids roaring with laughter.”
Joshua Runyan, from a review in the Baltimore Jewish Times



“In this loose adaptation of a medieval legend, Samuel Ha-Nagid, the eleventh century Jewish poet and royal advisor in Muslim Granada, is reimagined as the grand vizier’s son. Prone to daydreaming and clumsiness, Samuel manages to offend Hamza, the son of the Muslim tax collector… Hamza, in a fit of anger, calls Samuel a ‘donkey brain’ and ‘stupid.’ Samuel’s father overhears the one-sided verbal exchange and instructs his son to ‘make sure Hamza never says a mean word to you again.’ Samuel finds this is easier said than done… [Illustrator] Bernhard’s earth-toned illustrations with stylized mosaic flowers and arch motifs enhance the story’s multicultural flavor. An author’s note provides historical background. Never Say a Mean Word Again should be required reading for all youngsters—and adults—as a means to promote civility and cooperation.”
Association of Jewish Libraries Reviews, from a review by Allison Marks, Temple Israel Library, Akron, OH



“Jacqueline Jules' Never Say a Mean Word Again: A Tale from Medieval Spain tells of the wisest man in the kingdom who orders [his son] Samuel to be sure Hamza never says a mean word to [him] again. Two boys, one Jewish and one Muslim, work at settling their differences in this compelling tale of a boy given the power to punish his enemy … [This, and Paul Goble's Horse Raid] are powerful recommendations for youngsters looking for folktales about bravery, ethics and heroism.”
Children's Bookwatch, a review publication of Midwest Book Review



“‘Sticks and stones’ gets a novel outing in this lush picture book based on a medieval legend. The original tale concerns an important Jewish adult who lived during the Golden Age of Spain. Here, author Jules translates the action to two young boys, one Jewish, Samuel, one Muslim, Hamza, to demonstrate the hurtful power of words and a peaceful way to change anger to friendship . . . With humor and age-appropriate logic, Samuel tries out different ideas on a daily basis to coax Hamza from his bullying . . . The illustrations capture the boys, their emotions, the action, and the setting’s time and place in graceful, artistic, evocative style. Colors and designs draw readers into long ago and far away while the plot and dialog salute the timeless human condition. Highly recommended as a strong Jewish addition to a library or home ‘bully issue shelf’ and recommended to ages 5 to 7 as a charming tale.”
—from a review by Ellen G. Cole in Jewish Book World (a starred review)



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