|Pic courtesy janpienkowski.com|
Retold by David Walser
Illustrated by Jan Pienkowski
Published by Puffin books
What happens when a book of timeless tales is created when an inveterate traveller who is also a master storyteller collaborates with a gifted illustrator brought up on a steady diet of those very stories? A masterpiece like our book here.
The book has the expected link of stories. Beginning with the tale of the Sultan who wows to make a new woman a queen every day, only to kill her in the morning, as revenge for being betrayed by his first wife. Enter Shahrazade, the clever woman who can weave a web of stories, leaving it tantalisingly unfinished in the morning. She does this for a thousand and one nights. Until finally, having fallen in love with her, he abandons his wicked resolve.
So it is, in a way, a love story. But every tale she tells is full of a thrilling adventure, taking us to many parts of the world along the way, telling us of fantastical creatures and unbelievable happenings.
The book keeps us enchanted throughout, like the Sultan was, and A could not leave the book till it was finished. She had been put off by the inevitable violence of these tales when we had tried some other books previously. Walser, however, has faithfully brought the tales to life without scaring. As also brought to us the fact that these stories have originated at different places in the world, and not in Arabia alone.
The illustrations!!! I could have picked this book up just for those, even if the story wasn't so enchanting. Vibrant colours- shades of red, orange and yellow in the background, with the actual figures in black silhouette, adding to the sense of drama. The double-spreads at the beginning of each tale are particularly overpowering.
A recommended book for anyone wanting to discover the magic of the Arabian nights.