I remember my school teacher reading to us a book where part of the story was that the main character wants to get extra credit at school for reading a very long book. So he (?) goes to the library and the librarian suggested that instead of the telephone book, he should read the Arabian Nights, as it is also very long but much more interesting. Which book is this?

  • What a wonderful hook. I want to read it now.
    – Adam Burke
    Commented Sep 8, 2021 at 3:28

1 Answer 1


The book is most likely The Adventures of Ali Baba Bernstein by Johanna Hurwitz (and with illustrations by Gail Owens), published by HarperCollins in 1995. Below is the "evidence" (from the preview on Amazon.com, which gives access to most of the first chapter):

  • "get extra credit at school for reading a very long book":

    David Bernstein might have gone along forever being just another David if it had not been for the book report that his teacher assigned.
    "I will give extra credit for fat books," Mrs. Booxbaum told the class.
    She didn't realise that all of her students would try to outdo one another.

  • "telephone book":

    That afternoon he asked his mother what the fattest book was. Mrs. Bernstin thought for a minute. "I guess that would be the Manhattan telephone book," she said.
    David Bernstein rushed to get the phone book. (…) When he saw it had over 1,578 pages, he was delighted.

  • the librarian suggests the Arabian Nights:

    "I know just the thing for you", said the librarian.
    She handed David a thick book with a bright red cover. It was The Arabian Nights. It had only three hundred thirty-seven pages, but it looked a lot more interesting than the phone book.

  • 1
    Those excerpts sound exactly right! Thank you! Commented Sep 9, 2021 at 15:15

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