| Picture Books & Early Readers | | About Aaron’s Kid Books | | Aaron’s Home Page |
| Search | | New | | Flash! | | Rights | | Contact | | Subscribe |

An Aesop Accolade Winner

The Gifts of Wali Dad

A Tale of India and Pakistan

Book illustration

Retold by Aaron Shepard
Illustrated by Daniel San Souci

1995 Aesop Accolade (American Folklore Society)

1996 Honor Title, Storytelling World Awards

Children’s Book-of-the-Month Club selection

American Bookseller Pick of the Lists

Valerie and Walter’s Best Books for Children

Though Wali Dad lives in a hut, he feels he needs nothing more than he has. So when he sees that the coins he has saved have filled a pot to the brim, he isn’t sure what to do with the money.

At last he buys a lovely gold bracelet and sends it as a gift to the Queen of Khaistan. But what will he do with the gorgeous silks that the Queen sends back? Why, send them to the King of Nekabad! And when the King sends back twelve fine horses, who should get them but the Queen of Khaistan?

The gifts and the humor keep growing until it takes two heavenly visitors to set things right, in this charming folktale from the Punjab.

Picture book • Ages 4 & up

Aaron Shepard is the award-winning author of The Baker’s Dozen, The Sea King’s Daughter, The Monkey King, and many more children’s books, while his Web site is known internationally as a prime resource for folktales, storytelling, and reader’s theater. Once a professional storyteller, Aaron specializes in lively retellings of folktales and other traditional literature, which have won him honors from the American Library Association, the New York Public Library, the Bank Street College of Education, the National Council for the Social Studies, and the American Folklore Society.

Daniel San Souci has illustrated over 80 books. His awards have included the Boston Globe/Horn Book Award, the Gold Medallion Book Award, the National Parenting Publications Gold Award, and the Children’s Choice Award.

Simon & Schuster/Atheneum

Hardcover ~ 1995

The following links may earn commissions for this site.

Book cover


“A comic folktale with a plot of crystalline symmetry. . . . This happy story has no evil characters and an irresistible hero. A fun, well-crafted book, with nothing out of place.”—Kirkus Reviews, May 17, 1995

“A superior retelling. . . . Shepard has brought [the story] to life for new audiences.”—Marilyn Taniguchi, School Library Journal, Aug. 1995

“[Conveys] an atmosphere of radiating generosity.”—Mary Harris Veeder, Booklist, Apr. 25, 1995

“Delightful. . . . The universal message of Wali Dad, a poor man who lives happily and humbly, has appeal for all ages.”—Laura Beasley, South Coast Storytellers Guild Gazette, Fall 1995

“Imaginative [language]. . . . A treat for the eye.”—Marilyn McPhie, Storybag, Special Review Issue 1997

“A delightful foray into the joy of simplicity. . . . Wali Dad is my all‑time favorite of Aaron’s books for children (and they are all a close race!). The comic book style and quality of the illustrations are a pure delight, and the story telling is true and compelling. Do not miss the joy of reading this book to yourself and to any children you know.”—Sunow (Amazon reader review)

Sample Text

Hear This Sample Text (2:55 minutes)

One evening, Wali Dad dragged out the pot to see how much money it held. He was amazed to find that his coins had filled it to the brim.

“What am I to do with all this money?” he said to himself. “I need nothing more than I have.”

Wali Dad thought and thought. At last he had an idea.

The next day, Wali Dad loaded the money into a sack and carried it to a jeweler in the marketplace. He exchanged all his coins for a lovely gold bracelet.

Then Wali Dad visited the home of a traveling merchant.

“Tell me,” said Wali Dad, “in all the world, who is the noblest lady?”

“Without doubt,” said the merchant, “it is the young queen of Khaistan. I often visit her palace, just three days’ journey to the east.”

“Do me a kindness,” said Wali Dad. “The next time you pass that way, give her this little bracelet, with my compliments.”

The merchant was astonished, but he agreed to do what the ragged grasscutter asked.

Soon after, the merchant found himself at the palace of the queen of Khaistan. He presented the bracelet to her as a gift from Wali Dad.

“How lovely!” she said, admiring the bracelet. “Your friend must accept a gift in return. My servants will load a camel with the finest silks.”

When the merchant arrived back home, he brought the silks to the hut of Wali Dad.

“Oh, no!” said the grasscutter. “This is worse than before! What am I to do with such finery?”

“Perhaps,” said the merchant, “you could give it to someone else.”

Wali Dad thought for a moment. “Tell me,” he said, “in all the world, who is the noblest man?”

“That is simple,” said the merchant. “It is the young king of Nekabad. His palace, too, I often visit, just three days’ journey to the west.”

“Then do me another kindness,” begged Wali Dad. “On your next trip there, give him these silks, with my compliments.”

The merchant was amused, but he agreed. On his next journey, he presented the silks to the king of Nekabad.

“A splendid gift!” said the king, admiring the silks. “In return, your friend must have twelve of my finest horses.”

So the merchant brought the king’s horses to Wali Dad.

“This grows worse and worse!” declared the old man. “What could I do with twelve horses?”

But after a moment Wali Dad said, “I know who should have such a gift. I beg you, keep two horses for yourself, and take the rest to the queen of Khaistan!”

The merchant thought this was very funny, but he consented. On his next visit to the queen’s palace, he gave her the horses.

Now the queen was perplexed. She whispered to her prime minister, “Why does this Wali Dad persist in sending gifts? I have never even heard of him!”

The prime minister said, “Why don’t you discourage him? Send him a gift so rich, he can never hope to match it.”

Sample text copyright © 1995 Aaron Shepard. Top illustration courtesy of Atheneum Books for Young Readers/Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division. Illustration copyright © 1995 by Daniel San Souci.

Hear Mike Pinder Read!

The Gifts of Wali Dad

From the CD
A People With One Heart

(12 minutes)

| Picture Books & Early Readers | | About Aaron’s Kid Books | | Aaron’s Home Page |
| Search | | New | | Flash! | | Rights | | Contact | | Subscribe |