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Nicollette Jones
Nicolette is an author and Children’s Books Editor at the Sunday Times.

Tiny Owl loves to publish timeless stories, those that have something to say to modern audiences, regardless of when they were written. Bijan & Manije is a story from the ancient Persian epic Shahnameh, written a thousand years ago. When we chose to publish Bijan & Manije with its stunning modern illustrations, we had to find a new way to communicate the story to an audience with no prior knowledge of the Shahnameh. Enter our hero, Nicolette Jones! She agreed to look at the original story and rewrite it to align with the illustrations. The result was a beautiful picture book!

Here is a short interview with Nicolette Jones about the book.

Bijan & Manije
Bijan & Manije

Bijan and Manije is a story from a thousand year old book. It was an epic story mainly for grown-ups. What do you think about retelling it for children?

I think most of the myths that are the bedrock of our culture can be retold for children.  Greek myths and Grimm’s Fairy Tales were originally for an adult audience, and still resonate when modified for the young.

How much can a modern day child imagine an ancient story?

I think imagination is unlimited – especially a child’s imagination.  It is the point of books to take us to places we have never been.

What do you think is the moral of this story?

This is a tale of love and loyalty and courage and forgiveness: Manije stays beside the man she loves, and endures hardship for him. The hero employs both cleverness and strength to come to the aid of a friend. The man that betrayed Bijan is welcomed at their wedding.

If there is a moral it is that love can triumph, and forgiveness is better than revenge.

 

An extract from Bijan & Manije by Marjan Vafaeian

Are the illustrations of the book successful in narrating the story for children?

I think the illustrations are remarkable. Children are visually extremely acute and open, and quite apart from the richness of the colour and pattern, the characters and incidents can be found in the images. There is no prescribed style that works for children, and this one has some of the naïveté of their own drawings. It matters to have pictures of great variety for the young to cultivate their ability to read and appreciate images as well as text.

Bijan and Manije is a Persian epic story. Is the story approachable for non-Iranian children?

A story is a story. They don’t have borders. And it spoke to me.

 

  • Our Exciting title: Bijan & Manije. Link
  • An amazing adaptation of a Persian ancient epic poetry. Link
  • Impressive performances of epic literature in cafe’s and street theatres. Link
  • What makes a story immortal? A blog post. Link

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