Rumi: Whirling Dervish

Rumi: Whirling Dervish

4.5 2
by Demi
Born in Afghanistan in the thirteenth century, Rumi settled in Turkey and became a great mystical poet. From a holy man, Shamsuddin, Rumi learned to listen for the sacred sound of God within himself. When his creative spirit was awakned, he recited more than 5, rhymed couplets. He also wrote about the love that resides in the soul of everyone, regardless of religion


Born in Afghanistan in the thirteenth century, Rumi settled in Turkey and became a great mystical poet. From a holy man, Shamsuddin, Rumi learned to listen for the sacred sound of God within himself. When his creative spirit was awakned, he recited more than 5, rhymed couplets. He also wrote about the love that resides in the soul of everyone, regardless of religion or background. He founded the order of the whirling dervishes, who believed their spinning dances put them in touch with God and brought peace and love into the world. To honor the 8th anniversary of his birth, the United Nations declared 27 The Year of Mawlana Jalaladdin Rumi.

Editorial Reviews

Two years after the United Nations declared "The Year of Rumi," Demi presents this picture-book introduction to the thirteenth-century mystical poet. As in her previous illustrated biographies, Demi condenses her famous subject's life into a brief but substantive text. Here, she adds frequent excerpts from Rumi's poems and writings, and while the timeless passages aren't always smoothly integrated, they clearly demonstrate the poet's range of themes, as well as the reasons for his 800-year-old celebrity status.

In an introductory note, Demi cites Turkish miniatures as her inspiration for the small-scale, elaborately patterned pictures, rendered in Turkish and Chinese inks with gold overlay. Matching the poems' themes of spiritual union and elation, the gilded, celebratory pictures create shimmering beauty from the smallest details. Children will be particularly drawn to the scenes of dervishes whirling in perfect harmony, while Demi's simple words explain the symbolism in the movement: "His inspired verses and his whirling dervishes show that his love of God turns forever." A handsome tribute to a figure, and a subject, rarely covered in children's books.

Children's Literature - Paula K. Zeller
Rumi was a thirteenth-century mystical poet who founded the order of the whirling dervishes. This book follows Rumi as he learns Islamic law, science, and math from his father, then marries and teaches the same to his own sons and other students. But Rumi feels spiritually empty until he meets a special teacher who tells him to "listen for the sound of Heaven . . . to hear the sacred sound of God." After three years, the teacher disappears and Rumi spontaneously recites more than 50,000 rhymed couplets. Through his poetry, Rumi tells stories, gives commentaries, and teaches "about love and mercy as the purpose of the universe." One day, Rumi spins in circles in honor of his teacher and discovers that the movement helps him feel closer to God. He teaches his students the dance, and they become known as the whirling dervishes. The book includes excerpts from Rumi's poems and stories, including this from a song he taught his students: "We came whirling / out of nothingness / scattering stars / like dust. / The stars made a circle / and in the middle / we dance." Glowing, gold-overlaid paintings, each framed in gold, grace each page. Architectural features, trees, and even angels burst out from the margins of some of these formal tableaus. The final page, "About Whirling Dervishes," describes in greater detail how the dance is performed. Reviewer: Paula K. Zeller
School Library Journal

Gr 3-6

An esoteric biography of the poet, religious student, and teacher who lived in 13th-century Turkey. Rumi was raised in the Muslim faith and studied the Koran fervently. Nevertheless, he felt that his faith came only from book knowledge and not from experience. Shortly after this realization, he met Shamsuddin, a learned man with whom he studied for three years. It was during this contemplative time that Rumi felt his creative energies unleashed and he began to write poetry. He went on to write more than 50,000 rhymed couplets and gained a reputation as a great Persian poet. During this same time, Rumi began to express his love for God through a whirling dance that was meant to unite heaven and earth. Those who practiced this holy dance were called "whirling dervishes." Demi's trademark, stylized illustrations are intricate and feature the gold paint that has become her hallmark. The story itself, however, is somewhat complicated with a substantial cast of characters and the illustrations are repetitive. While it is interesting to learn about Rumi and the origin of the term "whirling dervish," this biography is not for average students. Still, libraries looking for more diversity in their biography and poetry sections will find this unusual selection useful.-Joan Kindig, James Madison University, Harrisonburg, VA

Kirkus Reviews
Neither the name nor the term will mean anything to kids, but Demi's signature luminous artwork elegantly evokes the life of one of the most revered mystical poets, who lived in Turkey in the 13th century. First taught by his father, Rumi became a preacher in a small mosque, but it was the teachings of a spiritual man who enlightened him and awakened his creative spirit. Rumi began circling and circling in a state of prayer. Never had he felt so close to God. He taught others, who became known as whirling dervishes who danced to his poetry. He believed that love is the root of all religions and he wanted children to find God in everything. Whirling dervishes continue to worship today by circle dancing, demonstrating that the love of God turns forever. The gilded, detailed illustrations suggest motion, while the concise text, which includes some of his poems, respectfully, almost reverently, treats the subject. The dedication states: "For children of all ages-whirling together in the sphere-let's dance!" (Picture book/biography. 9-12)

Product Details

Amazon Childrens Publishing
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
11.20(w) x 10.20(h) x 0.40(d)
870L (what's this?)
Age Range:
9 - 12 Years

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4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Ausonius More than 1 year ago
For nearly 800 years people have called him Rumi, literally "the man from Rome or the Roman Empire." That meant the Eastern Roman or Byzantine Empire and it was crumbling fast. Much of it had recently been conquered by Muslim Turks.  But to his mother and father Rumi was Jalaluddin, meaning "Splendor of the Faith" in Arabic. He lived from 1207 - 1273 and moved within a very large area of  Central and Western  Asia bounded to the north by four ancient seas (Mediterranean, Black, Caspian and Aral) and to the south by Red Sea, Persian Gulf and Arabian Sea (see illustrated map page 2). Much of his adult life he lived with wife and sons in today's Anatolian Turkey in the city Konya, known to the Greeks and Romans as Iconium.   See and read all about towering Persian poet and religious innovator Jalaluddin in the 2009 book RUMI WHIRLING DERVISH written and illustrated for children by American author Demi. I stress "see" because one of my granddaughters (age 11) recently, as a test, made almost perfect sense of the book from the illustrations alone. She also found the text clear and understandable, apart from the Arabic names and most of the illustrated ranslations into English of Persian religious verses. She especially liked Rumi's story "Nobody" about a man who knocked on God's door identified himself as "me" and was told to go away. After much meditating in a desert he saw his error and went back to God's house: "Who's there?" asked God. "You," replied the man. "Then come in," said God.There's no room for two here." (p. 24) Only with the visual, however, of on-line recordings of whirling dervishes in motion was our granddaughter able to make good sense of the book's title RUMI WHIRLING DERVISH. This is a great book to adorn your coffee table. It is easier for an adult to admire the stunning illustrations than for a child eight years and older (the intended reader) to grasp the whole text.  -OOO- 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago