The Half Rooster
by Phillip Martin
If you know how I travel, you know I prefer off the beaten path. Usually, way off the path. So, for the longest time, Albania has been one of my favorite destinations in Europe. It’s now kind of a trendy destination and the tourism industry has blossomed. But, I first went to Albania shortly after it opened up to the West. There were no travel guides. There were few taxis. I know this because I asked a policeman to help me get a taxi in the capital and he kind of chuckled, “Taxi?” Then, he blew his whistle, stopped the first car that passed by, and told the driver where to take me. Outside of the capital, it could very well have been a ride on a donkey cart. They were the main form of transportation at the time.
Quite by accident, I stumbled upon the Kotoni family and their guesthouse on my first trip to Albania. Their home, a 200-year-old Ottoman building, was in the middle of the old town section of Gjirokaster. It was lovely, but it was the family that has kept me coming back to Albania over the years. Vita and Haxi adopted me into the family and I’ve returned three additional times. Who goes to Albania four times and is waiting anxiously for the fifth time? That would be me.
Rural life in a poor country is more difficult than most people can even imagine. However, the rooster in this story has more problems than most. His owner was hungry and cut him in half. The half that was not eaten was kept around as a pet. The rooster knew that something had to be done before the poor man grew hungry again. He hatched a plan to find wealth and fame with the help of his friends.
I illustrated this book, I tried to keep in mind my Albanian experience. The castle on the cover is the one overlooking Gjirokaster. People in the book wore traditional Albanian clothing. The mountains looked like the ones I saw from Vita and Haxi’s front porch. But, most of all, I had to include a mushroom. No, it has nothing to do with fungus. During the Cold War, the leader of the country built 750,000 cement bunkers across the country. You can still find them on beaches, across fields, outside of cities, and in the middle of nowhere. The country was preparing for the imminent invasion from either NATO allies or the Soviet Union. The bunkers were designed to withstand tank assaults. But, that invasion never happened.
You could search online to find what one of these mushrooms actually looks like, but wouldn’t it just be a whole lot more fun to read The Half Rooster?
Pages: 32, Illustrated
This product was added to our catalog on Sunday 08 November, 2020.