“The romance of Bijan and Manijeh is found in the Book of Kings
), the national epic poem of Iran. Bijan, a warrior prince, is asked by the king to rid the country of wild boars, which he successfully does. On his way back from his mission, he meets and falls in love with Manijeh, a princess of an enemy kingdom. Rather than be parted from him, Manijeh tricks Bijan into drinking a potion that keeps him with Manijeh. When he is inevitably discovered, he is imprisoned in an underground pit, covered by a magic rock. The knight Rostam eventually rescues him, and the wiser, chastened lovers live happily ever after. Azizi’s retelling of this major Persian tale emphasizes its mythopoeic themes; Sadeghian’s gorgeous color illustrations bring to vivid life both the tale and classical Persian art. Supplemental interpretive commentary gives more mature readers food for spiritual thought. Ages 8–up.”
“We are told at the beginning of this book that the story of Bijan and Manijeh comes originally from the Book of Kings
, written by Persian poet Ferdowsi around 1000 A.D. What’s exceptional about this version (in the form of a children’s book) are the illustrations by Alireza Sadeghian. They have a very Eastern sensibility, with detailed borders and stylized backgrounds and fabrics. Some are full-page and deeply colored, while others are more whimsical accents to the text. Children may find it confusing that the characters’ clothing changes from page to page and the faces are not always recognizably individuated. But there is a lot for children to look at while the text is being read.
“The story itself is a familiar one from all cultures, about forbidden love and the twists and turns the young lovers must make to be together in the end. This one differs in that the young hero is rescued from a pit capped with a magic rock by a strong and wise man’s prayers. Another lovely addition is how the king learns of his hero’s plight: he had a golden cup in which he could see all the corners of the world; he prayed all night long and then looked into his cup and saw all that had happened to Bijan.
“The story of The Knight, the Princess & the Magic Rock
is simply told without adjectives or descriptive phrases. The author, Sara Azizi, is careful to represent this “classic tale” as basically as possible and she does a good job. The main story is framed by a page on either end in which a “modern-day” grandfather asks his grandchildren to listen closely as he tells the story; at the end, the children ask for more stories but are told “they will have to wait for another day.” Perhaps more use could have been made of these pages to explain the meaning of the story, but at the same time there is obviously a formula and tradition to maintain.
“A religious interpretation of the story lies at the end of the book and is instructive, though the adult reader wonders if it came from the commentary of Adham Khalkhali, the mystic who is mentioned at the beginning of the book, or from the author herself.
“The Knight, the Princess & the Magic Rock
is an easily read and enjoyable story with beautiful illustrations in the style of an ancient ethnic tale.”
, from a review in ForeWord Reviews
“The Knight, the Princess & the Magic Rock: A Classic Persian Tale
provides a very easy reader that needs no advanced reading skills to prove accessible, and retells the classic Persian story of a brave young knight called Bijan who falls in love with the daughter of an enemy of Persia. Their romance will endanger their lives in this fine tale, illustrated by Alireza Sadeghian and packed with color. Kids who enjoy folktales from other countries will find a winner, here!”
, a publication of The Midwest Book Review
“As an ancient civilization with a rich heritage of storytelling, Persia is a wonderful place to find material for children’s books. This beautiful little tale proves it. The story itself is certainly simple enough for third graders to understand and embrace. This may be a candidate to read aloud in a classroom, though. The concepts of kings, knights, and magic may need a little discussion.…
“Comprehension can be served by a number of reading activities. The publisher’s website (www.wisdomtalespress.com) offers a page of illustration for the reader to color. The author gives extensive details on the background and interpretation of the story, leaving the reader to explore further. The book was a finalist on the USA “Best Books 2012” reading list in two categories.
“The rich and detailed illustrations bring further life to the story. The knight on horseback chases the wild boars. The princess brings food to the knight in a hole. The rescuer, on camelback, searches for the knight. The reader is there.”
, from a review on the website 3rd Grade Reading (click here
to read the entire review)