Tahmineh’s Beautiful Bird
Author: Parviz Kalantari
Illustrator: Parviz Kalantari
Translator: Azita Rassi
Reading age: Under 5’s and 6 – 8 (and 9 – 11 as a stimulus for philosophical enquiry)
This story follows a young girl Tahmineh as she minds her tribe’s sheep on the bank of the river. One day, she hears the lovely sound of a bird singing next to her, and she believes it is the most beautiful sound she has ever heard. As we follow Tahmineh in her day-to-day activities, we watch as she thinks more and more on the sound she heard and wishes desperately to find and keep that enchanting bird with its melodic song. Tahmineh soon discovers that the best way to keep the feeling of the birdsong alive is to capture it in a woven Chanteh, not to trap the bird as her father tells her that ‘a wild bird would be unhappy to be trapped, and an unhappy bird won’t sing’.
We learn much from Tahmineh as she finds her own way of treasuring and celebrating the gift of song that she has heard, and interlaced throughout this tale is a lovely depiction of this young girl’s daily life which is a familiar pattern of childhood – attending school; helping with family chores; family trips together. I also loved the image of the baby (presumably a younger brother or sister) being carried in a wrap – an image we don’t often see published in children’s books in the UK (although carrying babies in this way is becoming more popular).
There are some really interesting universal themes to explore here (‘if you love something, set it free’) as well as images which could provoke valuable discussion on the similarities between the lives of the Qashqai tribes people in Iran and those who tended to sheep historically and currently in the UK and the skills shared by both (the weaving and dying of wool, for example). There’s lots of potential for tangible craft activities as a follow up to this story, and reflection on some of the widely celebrated paintings by the Iranian artist Parviz Kalantari as well as his bright and attractive illustrations within this book.
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More about this book:
- Read Turkish newspaper Today’s Zaman’s review here.
- Learn more about The Qashqai trib here and here.
- An introduction about Parviz Kalantari here.
- A Review by Jill Bennett here
- Learn about Qashaqai tribe here and here
- In the memory of Parviz Kalantari. here