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The importance of children seeing themselves represented in books 

Buy Bijan and Manije 

By Simran Divatia 

Simran with Bijan and Manije

When I was a child, it was incredibly rare to see an image in a book that reminded me of myself. All the princesses in my picture books looked a lot like each other, but not a lot like me. The ones I did see barely got a word in, and were never the focus of the story.

In Bijan and Manije, there was something about the big eyes, the long black hair, that left me wishing that this book had been available to me years ago. It is not a book that specifically reflects my own heritage, but all the same there was something about it I could instantly connect with. I know that as a child especially, I would have been able to see myself in this image of a dark-haired girl in her colourfully patterned clothing, and look up to her. It is incredible to see someone who looks like you be strong and be brave and fall in love. The illustrations themselves, with their jewel-like colours and intricate details reminded me of the various artefacts that my grandmother has collected and kept on every surface of her house, and so reading this story, this beautiful happily ever after story, felt a lot like home.

An interior from Bijan and Manije

Bijan and Manije is both an amazing adventure and a wonderful love story, and is a retelling of an ancient Persian tale from 10th century The Book of Kings. It tells the tale of a love that transcends borders, as well as the exciting story of Iran’s greatest hero.

Simran is an intern with Tiny Owl Publishing. 

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