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Buy The Parrot and the Merchant

Elizabeth Bird for The School Library Journal reviewed The Parrot and the Merchant and The Little Black Fish for their special feature on children’s books from Iranian creators!

If you are a fan of international children’s literature, finding books from specific countries, or from creators that are from those countries, can be a trial. Happily, we have the internet. A hodgepodge of information, true, but once in a great while it can be of use. And if you have looked at the wide swath of children’s literature out in 2019, you might have noticed an interesting trend. We’re seeing a nice increase in the number of books and creators from other countries. The country where I’ve seen the starkest increase? Iran. For whatever reason, Iranian children’s books and creators from Iran are on the rise. Which is to say, I’ve seen four of them this year. That’s not a huge number, but for a single year it’s pretty interesting.

Today, I’d like to give a bit of a rundown on these books. They vary in content and style. Some are folktales and others are contemporary. Some were published in Iran first, and some were published here in the States.

The Little Black Fish by Samad Behrangi, ill. Farshid Mesghali, translated by Azita Rassi

To begin, let’s start with a book that has been reprinted here in the States. Samad Behrangi’sThe Little Black Fish was illustrated by Hans Christian Andersen Award winner Farshid Mesghali and was initially published in Persian in Iran in 1968. Originally published by Kanoun Parvaresh Fekri, this new version is published by Tiny Owl Publishing Ltd and translated by Azita Rassi. I highly recommend that you check out Jules Danielson’s blog post on the book, which includes copious internal spreads. She also gives you background information on why the book was banned back in the day.

The Parrot and the Merchant: A Tale by Rumi, illustrated by Marjan Vafaeian, translated by Azita Rassi

A merchant loves to collect beautiful wild birds in cages. When she asks the cleverest of her birds, a parrot, what gift he would like, his answer leads to his freedom. This 13th-century tale is brought to life by an evocative Iranian artist. If the title sounds familiar, that may be because this tale was adapted into a picture book around 2010 called The Secret Message by Mina Javaherbin. I loved that book, but I’m quite drawn to this one too. Vafaeian made it a point to cast the merchant in this story as a woman, which I thought was interesting. It helps that it’s a strong fable too. Tiny Owl Publishing Ltd is also responsible for this release.

  • Read a review by Fabric of Life book blog: The Parrot and the Merchant appeals to the child in every adult!
  • Read a review: a 7 year old readers gives The Parrot and the Merchant 5 stars in Kids’ Book Buzz!
  • Read a review by Ellie Labbett: The Little Black Fish is food for thought!
  • Read a review by Massachusetts librarian Kristin Guay: The Little Black Fish shows children acceptance, compassion and bravery

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Posted in News & Reviews