A young musician finds a clever way to play to a royal audience in this tale from ancient Persia.
Drawn from Ferdowsi’s 11th-century Book of Kings, the tale describes how the dream of Barbad (a seventh-century historical figure) to become King Khosrow’s resident minstrel was blocked by the refusal of Sarkash, the jealous incumbent, to allow him into the palace. Barbad gets his audition at last, however, by painting himself green, hiding in a tree in the royal gardens, and playing from concealment until the delighted king calls him down. Though decorated with peacocks and other Eastern images, Ewart’s watercolor illustrations are done in a realistic rather than “Persian miniature” style and set the episode amid verdant hills and rich interiors awash in candlelit gold. In this general atmosphere of peace and plenty, everyone, even Sarkash (at first), looks happy and smiles engagingly. The artist sometimes has Barbad playing his oud left-handed, sometimes right-, but his face is alight with character, and she leaves him at the end glancing up at viewers with a dimpled grin of well-deserved triumph.
A serene, simply retold tale of dreams pursued and achieved. (source and background notes) (Picture book/folk tale. 6-8)