The Phoenix of Persia

by | Sep 14, 2019 | Book Review, Fiction, Picture Book

Book Details

The Phoenix of Persia
Sally Pomme Clayton, Illus. Amin Hassanzadeh Sharif. London: Tiny Owl, hb. 978 1 9103 2843 9, 2019, £12.99, 32pp.
Picture book, 6+ years

When the wish of King Sam and Queen Aram is granted and they have a baby, their joy turns to sorrow – anger even. The baby, Prince Zal, does not look like the prince the king wanted. His hair is white, not black. So Zal is condemned to be left on a mountainside. But he is a tiny baby….

The brilliant palette of the Iranian artist, Amin Hassanzadeh Sharif, brings the story to vivid life. The Simorgh – the Phoenix of Persia whose feathers have magic powers, who dies in the ashes only to be reborn – flies off the page. The characters who people the story have a solidity and presence of their own. We are able to join Shirin and Ali as they join the audience round the storyteller and then with them meet the king, the queen, Zal – and the Simorgh. Acting as a counterpart is the storytelling by Sally Pomme Clayton whose words add another dimension, opening the door to the imaginings of the artist, providing a path for the audience to follow. This in itself would make this an exceptional picture book shining as it does a spotlight on a tale that for some will remind them of home, for others transport them into another world.

There is more. To accompany the text Tiny Owl have commissioned original music to go with the story. This is very much in the tradition of Iranian storytelling and readers can access it through a QR code embedded within the book. Here they will meet not just the storyteller but a quartet of Iranian musicians who play traditional instruments, each of which will reflect one of the characters.

An outstanding picture book that offers its readers a truly rich exciting and immersive storytelling experience.  

Review by FΜΗ