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The Phoenix of Persia is a beautiful immersion into the literature of Iran – Armadillo

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The Phoenix of Persia gives students an insight into Iranian culture

We love this review of The Phoenix of Persia from Simon Barrett for Armadillo magazine. Read it below!

The Phoenix of Persia is a beautiful, sensual immersion into the literature, music and language of Iran.  It is based on a story from the Shahnameh (translated as the ‘Book of Kings’), an epic Persian poem written by the 10th century Iranian poet Ferdowsi.

The Phoenix of Persia begins with the creation of the world as the mythical bird, the Simorgh, nests on the Tree of All Seeds on the Mountain of Gems, flapping her wings until the seeds scatter across the world.  Life begins. Time passes. Prince Zal is born, a legendary king and great warrior in Persia. Rejected by his father King Sam however, Prince Zal is brought up by the Simorgh in a moral story about human fallibility — even our parents and wise leaders make poor decisions — and the need to forgive.

In addition to the printed book an audio version of The Phoenix of Persia is available.  The narration on this audiobook has a good pace, allowing younger readers to follow the words on the page whilst enjoying the illustrations by Amir Hassanzadeh Sharif.  The pictures are richly coloured, using tone to vary the intensity of the colours. Accompanying the narration is an original composition using Iranian instruments and performed by musicians of Iranian heritage with each instrument representing a different character in the story.  There is further information at the back of the book to help guide readers when listening to the music. There is however a simple pleasure in listening to the recording and reading the book.

There is also a Teacher Resources booklet available, primarily for Key Stages 2 and 3, but the activities can be adapted.  The Teacher Resources are cross-circular including geographical and historical research tasks, creating a dramatic performance, various art projects and composing music.  In addition there are resource boxes that can be accessed via Tower Hamlets Schools Library Service, giving children an opportunity to handle some of the artefacts contained in the book.  More information and other material is available at http://tinyowl.co.uk/phoenixofpersia/.

The Phoenix of Persia is an inspirational story, accompanied with so many creative resources for schools to give their students a real insight into Iranian culture.

  • Meet the illustrator of The Phoenix of Persia!
  • Read a review by Parents in Touch: The Phoenix of Persia is a boon for teachers!
  • The Phoenix of Persia picked as a top book for Fathers’ Day!
  • Read a review by Read It Daddy: The Phoenix of Persia is a must-read!

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Quill Soup serves up a full-flavoured message! – Red Reading Hub

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Quill Soup has zesty, kaleidoscopic illustrations!

Jill Bennett for Red Reading Hub has written a great review of Quill Soup!

This droll tale, the third in Tiny Owl’s ‘One Story, Many Voices’ enterprise is a wonderful retelling of an African variant of folk tale classic Stone Soup.

Here the protagonist, Noko is a tired, very hungry porcupine that dupes a whole village of selfish, well-sated animals into contributing to a wonderful meal even though they’ve asserted one by one that they have absolutely nothing to spare for the stranger.

Noko’s initial request in the seemingly empty village he arrives at is to the resident of the first house. But his “Do you have anything I can eat?” request is met with Warthog’s response, “I’m sorry, I ate a big lunch and all my food is gone.” Really?

Further excuses come from Rabbit, Monkey, Aardvark,

Meerkat and Pangolin, and all the while Noko is convinced the animals are lying.

Though his body may be tired, the porcupine’s brain most certainly isn’t – it’s as sharp as his own quills and he comes up with a plan to get some of that food stashed away in the villagers’ homes.

The animals feel obliged to his requested large pot of water and some fire, and learn that the visitor is to make his own quill soup using three quills from his own back – a flavourful soup fit for a king.

Mightily impressed that Noko has met the king, one by one the villagers provide the ingredients he mentions as he samples the contents of the pot until eventually the porcupine declares the soup “Perfect’ and then it’s time for a shared feast under the stars.

And by the time Noko requests a hole to bed down in, the other animals have realised that he deserves a much comfier place than that to sleep – after the communal singing, dancing and storytelling, that is.

Dale Blankenaar’s kaleidoscopic illustrations have a zestiness about them that is just right for Alan Durant’s version of the story. Their combination serves up the full-flavoured message that we  should all offer a welcome to strangers in need, sharing our resources to help them, wherever, whenever we can.

  • Read a blog: Discover the folk tale behind Quill Soup: Stone Soup!

Visit our bookstore

Download book posters

Limited edition prints

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