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Read a wonderful review of The Parrot and the Merchant by Louise Gahan for Reading Zone:

The Parrot and the Merchant provides a platform for discussion.

The Parrot and the Merchant is a story based on a thirteenth century fable about a merchant who trades goods between Persia and India. However, the merchant this time takes shape as a woman Mah Jahan, who is depicted as a strong, self determined figure adorned with beautiful and exquisitely designed dresses. Interesting then that she should be drawn to a colourful parrot that she brings back from India and keeps caged for her own pleasure. It’s as if Vafaian has captured the essence and beauty of the parrot in the motifs that adorn Mah Jahan’s dress. A metaphor for life; we as humans are forever seeking to encapsulate the richness and beauty of other things. For children, though, the message is simple. Is it right to capture something that was born to be free? As with many fables from this country and from other cultures, it makes us question why we need to do such things. Is it fair or just? This story provides a platform for discussions about what is morally right; children could draw on and compare experiences from their own life against that of the fable. Or the story could form part of children’s learning about what living things – birds and parrots – need to survive. This is a beautifully illustrated, enchanting story that will appeal to a wide range of ages.

Picture book / Ages 5+ / Reviewed by Louise Gahan, teacher.

  • An article at the Biennial of Illustration Bratislava: the most influential children’s books are made for the sake of art
  • Meeting the illustrator in Tehran
  • Read David Almond’s words about this book in the Guardian. Link

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