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The Most Magnificent Mosque    by Ann Jungman & Shelley Fowles order for
Most Magnificent Mosque
by Ann Jungman
Order:  USA  Can
Frances Lincoln, 2004 (2004)
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

This magnificent picture book combines a bit of history with an important lesson in tolerance. It's set in Cordoba, Spain, 'the most beautiful city in the world'. While the city was under the rule of a Muslim Caliph, other religions were tolerated and 'three naughty boys: Rashid, who was a Muslim, Samuel who was Jewish, and Miguel who was Christian' made mischief in the grounds of the city's Great Mosque, whose gardens were so lovely that in them Cordobans thought 'they were in Paradise itself.' When the troublemaking trio were finally brought before the Caliph, he assigned them to work in the gardens, and they grew to love the cool mosque, which they found 'Wondrous and fair indeed.'

The friends grew up, and the city changed hands after the aging Caliph was defeated. The new Christian ruler, Spanish King Fernando, planned to replace the mosque with a cathedral. Of course the three boys, grown up into men, pled for the mosque on behalf of all their peoples, 'Three communities with one voice'. As a result, its 'shady trees and sweet-scented blossoms' can still be visited today. There's a lot to learn from The Most Magnificent Mosque, for both kids and adults, in particular that, in a culture of tolerance, a love of beauty, cooperation and friendship can transcend individual faiths.

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