The Phoenix of Persia

Publisher: Tiny Owl

Review

This atmospheric picture book retells a traditional Iranian story, taken from the Shahnameh, an epic poem which was written a thousand years ago.

When Prince Zal is born with a shock of snowy white hair, the King of Persia refuses to accept him as his son and casts him out of the kingdom. Thankfully, the baby is found by the Simorgh, a huge mythical firebird, who teaches him everything she knows and the prince grows into a knowledge, wise and compassionate young man.

The illustrator has created stunning, textured artwork using a "sgraffito" technique, which involves etching through a layer of paint to reveal the rich base colour underneath. The tale is further enhanced by a downloadable narration by the author, which is set to inspiring original music, where each instrument represents a different character. The book includes details about the instruments used, as well as information about Iran’s ancient tradition of storytelling, music and poetry.

This superb collaboration between author, illustrator and musicians is ideal for use in schools, and related teaching resources are available. Perfect to explore traditional tales from other cultures, its underlying themes of acceptance, forgiveness and wisdom are still relevant today.

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