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Magic Horse

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This unexceptional, somewhat clunky retelling of an ancient tale set in the Middle East pits magic against technological advancement. While his forward-thinking brother tinkers with useful inventions, Prince Tambal, dismissed as a dreamer, flies to strange lands on a mind-reading wooden horse. Ornately decorated pages, with inset naturalistic illustrations and frame upon frame of geometric borders, complement the exotic scenes, which include a flying palace (housing the captive Princess Precious Pearl) and a camel trek through the desert. Freeman's patterns recall both mosaics and kaleidoscopes. Shah, who died in 1996, is best known for his writings on the Sufi tradition; this is one of a series of posthumously released children's books. Ostensibly a teaching story, the book's lesson is, unfortunately, less than coherent: why a love of fantasy would make Tambal a better king than his practical brother remains unclear. Ages 7-12. (Sept.) FYI: Three other books by Shah are being released from Hoopoe at the same time, for younger children. These are Neem the Half-Boy, illus. by Midori Mori and Robert Revels; The Farmer's Wife, illus. by Rose Mary Santiago; and The Lion Who Saw Himself in the Water, illus. by Ingrid Rodriguez. ($17 each, 32p ages 3-8 ISBN -10-3; -07-3; -12-X)
School Library Journal
Gr 3-5--Shah has collected hundreds of Sufi tales, many of which are teaching tales or instructional stories. In this tradition, the line between stories for children and those for adults is not as clear as it seems to be in Western cultures, and the lessons are important for all generations. This picture-book version of one of these stories tells of two princes, one of whom pursues his heart's desire with a mechanical fish invented by an ironsmith, and one who follows a more difficult path when he chooses a magical carved horse that appears less useful. The tale of the two brothers and their journeys is illustrated with jewel-toned, delicate paintings featuring the costumes, tools, buildings, and animals of the Moslem East. Each set of pictures is triple-framed with patterned motifs resembling the tiles and textile patterns of the culture. The two brothers do not represent good and evil as happens so often in Western tales, but instead merely the choice of two different paths. This unique quality as well as the rich art will invite discussions of differences in the characters and meanings of tales across cultures. Since little material from Sufi tradition is available for children, this book will be a welcome addition to traditional literature collections.--Barbara Chatton, College of Education, University of Wyoming, Laramie
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781883536268
  • Publisher: I S H K
  • Publication date: 8/28/2001
  • Pages: 34
  • Age range: 9 - 12 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.30 (w) x 11.10 (h) x 0.20 (d)

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 2 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 31, 2001

    A Teacher's Review

    There are so many mysterious twists and turns to the telling of this amazing and complex story. I read this book to all my classes (third graders). The kids hang on every word in spellbound silence. How important in this technological, materialistic culture for our kids to be exposed to the very notion of a 'heart's desire,' to the idea of life as a richly complex journey with multiple dimensions and possibilities beyond our wildest dreams - possibilities that we must stretch ourselves to discover and realize. I highly recommend this book for kids of all ages

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 25, 2001

    A truly magical book for young and old alike.

    This book is a real treat, both visually (the illustrations are gorgeous) and narratively (the rich plot is sure to keep adults as well as children enthralled). My 10-year-old daughter loves it, and each time I read it with her I notice something in it that I hadn¿t noticed before ¿ which is rare indeed for a children¿s book. The story, which has been told for more than a thousand years in Central Asia and the Middle East, doesn¿t batter the reader with clumsy morals, but instead seems to offer something subtler and, I suspect, of far greater value. It revolves around a boy who finds and achieves his heart¿s desire with the help of a magical wooden horse that carries him on its back as it flies through the air to wondrous places. Readers of this marvelous book are sure to soar right along with them.

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