My Father's Shop by Satomi Ichikawa

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Ichikawa, Satomi.  2006.  MY FATHER'S SHOP.  La Jolla, CA:  Kane/Miller Book Publishers.  ISBN: 978-1-929132-99-7.

My Father's Shop by Satomi Ichikawa is the story of a young Moroccan boy named Mustafa.  One day while helping his father at his rug shop, he discovers a rug with a hole in it.  Mustafa asks his father if he can have the rug and since the rug is damaged and cannot be sold his father agrees.  Mustafa's father tries to teach him foreign words that will be useful to him when he works in the shop, but the boy is bored and goes to the market to show his friends his new rug.  A rooster, whose colors are similar to those of the rug, begins to follow Mustafa and he encounters tourists from around the world who tell him what the roosters' crows sound like in their countries.  Mustafa (followed by the rooster) runs back to the shop and tells his father he can "speak rooster in five languages."  Mustafa's father is happy because all the tourists have followed the boy and the rooster to the shop, bringing him lots of business.

My Father's Shop illustrates the little ironies that occur in real life.  By finding a rug with a hole in it and playing with it as children do, draping it over himself, Mustafa catches the attention of the rooster, who may think Mustafa is another, larger rooster because of his similarity of his coloring to the rug's colors.  In turn, the rooster catches the attention of tourists from around the world who happen to be in the marketplace and they share with each other what their country's rooster's crows sound like and then follow Mustafa back to his father's shop.  Ironically, Mustafa's father giving him the rug has done more for his business than teaching him foreign phrases to deal with customers would have.

Ichikawa's illustrations capture the feeling of Morocco.  They are done in deep rich reds, oranges, golds, and greens.  The rugs in Mustafa's father's store are full of color and pattern and the marketplace is full of life and activity with merchants selling all kinds of food and baskets.  The Moroccans in the book wear traditional clothing.  In the text, Morocco is captured through the names of Mustafa and his friend, Yacine.  Mustafa's father's rug shop, his knowledge of foreign languages, and the marketplace reflect Morocco's role as a popular tourist destination.  This short book gives the reader an impression of Morocco and its economic dependence on tourism.

Ichikawa, who was born in Gifu, Japan, moved to Paris in 1971.  Her works are truly international and have been set in the Caribbean (Isabela's Ribbons), Guatemala (My Pig Amarillo), the Mediterranean (Nora's Stars), Africa (The First Bear in Africa), France (Suzanne and Nicholas at the Market and La La Rose), and Morocco (My Father's Shop).

Works cited:

Medialynx Japan Website.  Accessed April 20, 2006. website.   Accessed April 20, 2006.

by Monica Wood