<B>A boy's colorful quest for knowledge</B> Why is it that stories and fables set in the Middle East have such a hold on the imagination? Is it the fabulous beasts, the genies that pop improbably out of magic lanterns or the carpets that are not only gorgeous but can fly? Even today, when the real Middle East has lost much of its mystery and just about all of its glamour, stories set there never fail to fascinate.

Ed Young's new title, <B>What About Me?</B> will help readers solve the riddle of the Middle East. A captivating picture book for youngsters, the volume delivers the seductiveness of this exotic region through a timeless story and rich paper collage work set against a glorious gray and gold background. The very first illustrated page is a long shot of the book's boy hero surrounded by goats in a blizzard of glitter. Based on Sufi tradition, the story is simple. The boy, like generations of seekers before him, goes to a Grand Master to gain knowledge. The Grand Master, pieced lovingly together by Young, with a bit of floss for a beard, tells the boy to go and get him a carpet, despite the fact that he's serenely sitting on one. The boy, in his turban and beautiful robe of red marbled paper, logically goes to a carpetmaker, who says he needs some thread. The boy then goes to a spinner woman, who says she needs goat hair, and so on. It's a process of learning for the boy, whose initiation into the ways of the world leaves him much wiser than before.

Even before the journey's end readers can revel in the textures of the artist's work. You can almost feel the fuzziness or roughness or smoothness of the collage pieces. A strip of hot pink on a veil is wonderfully vivid, and the subtle, melting mauves and violets of a cloud that flies over the boy's shoulder as he runs away is a beautiful touch.

This is a book kids will learn from and enjoy, a coming-of-age odyssey filled with wisdom and meaning. Caldecott winner Ed Young is the author of the children's classic <I>Seven Blind Mice</I>. Although his book's target audience is children aged four to eight, <B>What About Me?</B> is a volume that readers of all ages will treasure.

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