Never Say a Mean Word Again

A Tale From Medieval Spain (2014)
Never Say a Mean Word Again


This picture book is based on a medieval folktale about poet Samuel Ha-Nagid, a vizier in Granada, a city in Spain.  I learned from the extensive author's note that a vizier is the highest royal advisor to a ruler.  In this story, Jules imagines that Samuel is a young boy who mistakenly offends another boy Hamza, the tax-collector's son, by first running into him, and then by spilling lamb sauce onto him.  Hamza says many mean things to Samuel, but instead of punishing Hamza, Samuel's father the vizier tells Samuel that Samuel himself must take care of the problem by making sure that Hamza never says a mean word again.  Samuel is perplexed as to how he will do this.  He comes up with several unlikely scenarios, and then comes up with a plan: he'll take a lemon to Hamza's house and make Hamza eat the lemon, but instead they end up playing with the lemon as a ball.  Samuel comes up with more plans, but they keep going wrong: he and Hamza end up playing together each time.  In the end, Samuel realizes he has fulfilled his father's words: by making Hamza his friend, Hamza will never say a mean word again.  Similar to Enemy Pie by Derek Munson, the story works to share with early elementary age students about friendship.

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