As a child, Aladdin was probably one of my favorite stories. Of course, I only saw and read the Disney version so the characters that come to mind are Jaffar, Princess Jasmine, Genie, and the Sultan. I even dressed as Princess Jasmine once for Halloween. When I read this book, I discovered new material that the Disney version did not show and I have to say, I also enjoyed this book as one of the characters were witty.
As most of us know, the magic lamp and the genie helped changed Aladdin’s life. However,in this text, readers are introduced to Aladdin”s life from when he was a child. Unlike the Disney version where the story takes place in the Middle East, this version takes place in China. Aladdin is viewed as a “lazy scoundrel.” He got into a lot of mischief and this worried his parents. His father was a trade merchant and his mother spinned cotton for a living, and Aladdin’s mother was concerned about her son because he did not want to work. His father eventually died and one day he met up a sorcerer in the market. According to the text, this man claimed that he was Aladdin’s uncle and came to pay his respect to his brother’s family. In fact, the sorcerer gave Aladdin some money to take to his mother so she could prepare a meal. When Aladdin returned to his mother and told her about his so called “uncle,” the mother knew that their was something wrong as she never heard of her husband having a brother. As a result, Aladdin became fond of the moor and trusted him. One day, the moor took Aladdin to a garden full of wonders, and told him that his father, Mustafa would have wanted him to retrieve a lamp. Aladdin went into the cave and he was mesmerized by what he say and he was able to obtain the lamp. But when his so called uncle asked Aladdin to throw the lamp, and not help him first. Aladdin was able to see that the man was not his uncle but a mean sorcerer. Eventually, Aladdin set himself free by rubbing the lamp and meeting a genie who told him that he was his slave and that he would do whatever Aladdin commanded. Indeed, Aladdin did return back to his home with the lamp and he took care of the mother by providing all the food as it was one of his wishes. Aladdin was living the good life. One day, he went into the market and saw Princess Badr-al-Budur, the daughter of the Sultan of China. He knew he had to get close to her and asked his mother for help, by going to the palace with jewels. The mother obliged and met with the Sultan and told him about her son and how he fell in love and wanted to marry her. The sultan said that he gives the permission for him to marry his daughter if Aladdin was able to obtain more jewels. Eventually, the two were married. However, the sorcerer discovered that Aladdin had the lamp and as a result, he held the princess hostage until Aladdin gave up the lamp. The sorcerer eventually did obtain the lamp by one of Aladdin’s slave who was trying to trick the moor, and Aladdin was arrested because the sultan’s daughter and the palace went missing. However, Aladdin’s slave, Fatima discovered where the princess was and told her that she must be brave and gave her a toxin to put in the sorcerer’s tea. Indeed, the sorcerer drank the tea and Aladdin and the princess were able to reunite and eventually, Aladdin killed the sorcerer by cutting off his head. Aladdin asked for the genie’s help by returning the palace to the sultan and told the Sultan about the moor. Thus, Aladdin became a writer and was dubbed “Prince of Publishers” in China. When the sultan died, Aladdin inherited the kingdom where he and his princess lived all his life, until he died.
Some of the features that make this text part of the fairy tale genre include a princess, a prince, an evil protagonist, and a few struggles. Out of all the fairy tales that I have read so far, this text is my favorite as the dialogue is witty and humorous at the same time. One of my favorite characters has to be Aladdin’s mother. From the very beginning of the book, readers are able to get a sense of what the relationship between Aladdin and Aladdin’s mother. The author writes, “Aladdin’s mother was left to look after him on her own. The only work she could find was spinning cotton, so she had to do that while Aladdin hung about the streets with his idle friends. Why don’t you find some decent work to do, you lazy wretch? she said. Everyone to their trade, mother! You spin cotton and I make mischief. That’s a fine trade; it suits me well. She felt like following her husband to the grave.” Readers can sense that two have a close relationship, that the mother cares for her son and wants him to be successful, where the son believes that something extraordinary will happen to him when he least expects it. However, the two are considered like a team and help each other out to get out of their issues. Later in the story, the mother states, “It’s your jinnee Aladdin! Make him go away!” Once again, readers can sense that the mother relies on a man to help out with domestic life. The illustrations in the book are beautiful as they help children understand what is occurring in the story, and the pictures allow children to make predictions as well.
I believe children are able to do a lot of reading strategies with this book including decoding hidden messages. This tale is different from the Disney version and allowed me to view Aladdin from a different lens. First, the story is based in China and not in the Middle East, which is interesting. The princess is not introduced in the beginning of the story but towards the end. I was surprised that she even kissed the evil sorcerer when she was married. Therefore, to an extent, she did cheat on her husband but eventually all was forgiven. At first, Aladdin seemed to be interested in riches more than anything but then when he met the princess, his life changed and he became vulnerable and started caring about others.
I don’t have many particular questions in this story as I feel a lot of them were answered throughout the book since this was a lengthy story. I was just wondering if Aladdin’s father really died because he was worried about his son and his future, or did he have an illness? The Moor obviously heard of Mustafa and Aladdin previously, so what made him seek Aladdin and claim that he was his uncle? Why did the author chose the setting in China and not the Middle East?