The Enchanted Canary*

Contemporary Arabic Children's Books

'If I do not mistake, you come from far. May I ask where you are going?'
'I will tell you,' answered Désiré, 'though most likely you will laugh at me. I dreamed that in the land of the sun there was a wood full of orange trees, and that in one of the oranges I should find a beautiful princess who is to be my wife. It is she I am seeking.'
'Why should I laugh?' asked the old man. 'Madness in youth is true wisdom. Go, young man, follow your dream, and if you do not find the happiness that you seek, at any rate you will have had the happiness of seeking it.'

This is one of the Folktales my Sitti, grandmother, used to tell us.
Years later I find out it is from Holland. Some say this sunny place he went to is in our part of the world, in one of our orange groves.

And here I am years later I visit Holland for the first time as a teller of tales and as the old man said I am following my dream…

The story ends by saying:
Since that time you see in the midst of the fair-haired blue-eyed white and pink women of Flanders a few beautiful girls, whose eyes are black and whose skins are the colour of gold. They are the descendants of Zizi.

*A traditional Folktale from Holland