The Phoenix of Persia

Tiny Owl. (One Story, Many Voices). Mar. 2020. 32p. Tr $17.95. ISBN 9781910328439.
Gr 1-5–Music joins storytelling in this multimedia presentation of a classical tale from Iran. The book begins with an explanation of the Persian epic The Shanameh (“The Book of Kings”), discussing its poetic origins and the “ancient tradition of storytelling and poetry where musicians play instruments to bring stories to life.” There’s a brief synopsis of the tale told here, and readers are instructed to use a printed QR code to hear the story told along with Iranian instrumental music. The story starts with modern-day children racing into a park to hear the musicians and storyteller. They are told it will be a story in four parts, beginning in an ancient time “far from humans and near the sun” on a sparkling “mountain made of jewels” where there’s a giant tree holding the giant nest of a huge bird, the Simorgh, that is both magical and wise. “She was the size of thirty birds and shone like a hundred suns.” Meanwhile, down in ancient Persia, a king and his wife finally have a long-desired baby son. Shades of rust and blue predominate the book’s illustrations. The fiery figure of the Simorgh bears an odd, seemingly cloth banner atop her head. Human figures are crude and clumsy, many appearing to be prehistoric or even sepulchral. Teacher resources are also offered online.
VERDICT The multifaceted production and the familiar themes of magical times and a human child raised by a heroic figure offer many possibilities for use and enjoyment.

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