This story is retold from the 13th-century Persian mystic and poet, Rumi. It is about a jackal who thinks his brown and grey fur is boring and wants to be a peacock. So in his quest to transform himself he begins to collect colourful things to stick to his fur so he, too, could be as beautiful and colourful as the peacocks and so that all the other animals would love and admire him. But what soon becomes evident through the vivid illustrations of Golmohammadi, is that despite the wondrous colour and design of the jackal’s transformation, there remained an obscurity.
A modern day message perhaps, about people’s need to transform themselves into something they’re not. And what we can change externally is much harder to do internally. Soon the jackal’s inherent and instinctive behaviour and customs get the better of him. We find the jackal enjoying jackal food and playing jackal games with his friends. Ultimately, this is a book about friendship, as it is the other jackals that look on without judgement and who are waiting in the wings to pick the jackal up when he – inevitably – falls.
This is a great book that will help children explore feelings of envy, about wanting to be somebody or something different; to question why that might be and to remind children of the importance of self-worth and appreciation of oneself and of those around them. The illustrations will inspire any child to explore and create their own ideas of transformation, to form a narrative alongside, but at the same time addressing those underlying issues that exist in our modern world.
Picture book / Ages 5+ / Reviewed by Louise Gahan, teacher.
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