Read a wonderful review of Bijan and Manije by Sarah Stokes for IBBY Link February 2017.
Ali Seidabadi, illus. Marjan Vafaian, trans. Azita Rassi, London: Tiny Owl Books, hb. 978 1 9103 2814 9, 2016, £12.99, 24pp. First published in Iran in 2016 by Chekkeh Publishers. [Picture storybook, 5–10 years. Keywords: ancient epic; Persia; kings; Iran; adventure.]
This book depicts one of the ancient Persian epics of Shahnameh (Book of Kings) and brings it to life with such energy and vigour that it’s hard not to be carried along by its vibrant illustrations and its enthralling tale of the two main protagonists, Bijan and Manije.
Manije is the daughter of the King of Turan, King Afrasaib, who rules his kingdom with a fist of iron. By contrast, the king of neighbouring Iran, King Khosrow, is kind and loved by his people. Bijan is a young man who serves at the court of King Khosrow and is keen to show himself to be a man of strength, courage and loyalty to his monarch. An opportunity presents itself when Bijan hears of a herd of wild boar wreaking havoc in the forests on the border with Turan. Boldly, he steps forward and offers to rid the forest of the beasts in the name of his favoured King Khosrow. So begins an epic adventure for Bijan, across wild terrain and, unexpectedly, into the arms of beautiful Princess Manije, the feisty young daughter of King Afrasaib.
Following the narrative arc of all good traditional stories, the young lovers’ journey to true happiness is blighted by various obstacles along the way, until ancient scores are settled and their union is finally approved by the kings of both nations. Marjan Vafaian’s striking illustrations bring this story to life and provide the perfect accompaniment to Ali Seidabadi’s retelling of this traditional story. An exciting literary page-turner for all readers, young and old alike.
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