Taj Mahal

Taj Mahal

by Caroline Arnold, Madeleine Comora, Rahul Bhushan
     
 

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

One of the world's architectural wonders takes center stage in this exquisitely illustrated story about its history and lore. With abundant detail and poetic license, Arnold (The Terrible Hodag and the Animal Catchers) and Comora (George Washington's Teeth) recount the legendary love story behind the Taj Mahal (which means "crown palace"). Shah Jahan builds the spectacular monument to entomb and immortalize his beloved wife, Mumtaz Mahal, who died at age 39 shortly after childbirth. An emperor in the Mughal Dynasty in 17th-century India, "Shah Jahan spared no expense. Pearl white marble was brought from quarries in Jodhpur... crystal came from China, lapis lazuli from Afghanistan... sapphires and quartz from the Himalayas." Bhushan's debut picture book's extraordinary paintings echo the floral motifs and symmetry of the famous mausoleum. Intricate, narrow borders of tiny gold flowers within ribbons of ruby red or forest green surround and connect text boxes and illustrations. In several spreads, concentric borders give the impression of framed art. Larger floral- and pastoral-patterned backdrops in muted gold bleed off each page. The scenes themselves, which have a formal, portrait quality (many of the faces are flat and in profile), are filled tiny details, from jewels and luxuriously textured fabrics to elaborate battle dress. In the wedding parade scene, nearly a hundred individuals in miniature occupy a courtyard, each wearing a finely drawn costume. Facts about the royal family and the Taj Mahal, as well as a bibliography, wrap up this nonfiction narrative, though it's the artwork throughout that is sure to amaze. Ages 5-up. (May)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
VOYA
AGERANGE: Ages 11 to 14.

This picture book, appropriate for older grades, tells the story of how Shah Jahan, then known as Prince Khurram, falls in love with and weds Arjumand, daughter of his father's prime minister. They are, thereafter, "inseparable." When Arjumand (later renamed Mumtaz) dies during childbirth while accompanying Shah Jahan on one of his campaigns, he is devastated. In 1632, he plans the beautiful monument of white marble inlaid with jewels in which to house her tomb, surrounded by a garden and fountain with a reflecting pool. The entire book is beautifully designed by Bhushan. The illustrations are executed in the style of "manuscripts" chronicling "Emperor Shah Jahan's rule." Each page of illustration and text is framed within decorated red borders and lies flat against a beige background with motifs, predominantly featuring plants and flowers. Bhushan's skill as a miniaturist is shown in exquisite color illustrations which, in the tradition of Indian art, are also highly decorated. Historical facts are provided after the story for The Mughal Empire, Shah Jahan, and Mumtaz Mahal. Only here is it stated that Mumtaz was one of the Shah's three wives and that the "love story" is "based largely on legend" for the recording of their "personal lives . . . would have been a sensitive topic" in "Islamic culture and society." Detailed information about the architecture of the Taj Mahal plus a selected bibliography of books is also provided. It is an interesting choice for multicultural collections spanning a wide range of ages. Reviewer: Hilary S. Crew
April 2008 (Vol. 31, No. 1)

Children's Literature - Uma Krishnaswami
Opening with a brief introduction to the Mughal empire in India, the narrative in this delicately illustrated book moves quickly to the day that Prince Khurram lost his heart to a commoner, Arjumand Banu, who would become his wife. In the years ahead, Khurram himself would ascend the Mughal throne and assume the title of Shah Jahan. The splendor and conquests of his rule are described in the pages that follow, as is the death in childbirth of his beloved wife, on whom he conferred the title of Mumtaz Mahal. The climax of this historic tale, however, is the commissioning and construction of one of the world's most famous tombs, "as beautiful as the moon and stars." The scale of the project is conveyed in numerous details about the size of the city of workers who built it, the calligraphers who wrote the words that decorate the walls of the tomb, and the sculptors who carved in the inscriptions and created the friezes of marble flowers. It concludes with the aged emperor's deposition by his son Aurangzeb and the lonely end of his life as a prisoner in the Red Fort in Agra. Borders and watermarks on the pages echo the designs in books of the period, and Bhushan's artwork is filled with the minute detail and lush color of Mughal miniature paintings. Exhaustive back matter includes notes about the Mughal Empire, further biographical material about Shah Jahan and Arjumand Banu (Mumtaz Mahal), and details about the construction and ornamentation of the mausoleum and its place in history. A selected bibliography is included as well.
Kirkus Reviews
Placed over wide, sumptuous carpets of finely detailed golden vines or other motifs and illustrated with accomplished Indian-style miniatures, this lyrical account frames a touching tale of love and loss in magnificent visuals. Falling in love as teenagers, Prince Khurram and a court official's daughter Arjumand courted in secret, and then after a glorious wedding went on to rule wisely and well as Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal until her death during childbirth in 1631. Obeying her deathbed wish that all the world know of their love, he built her the jeweled tomb that is still one of the world's wonders. He too is buried there, as the separate, black tomb he planned for himself was never built. Historical summaries and other notes (including the admission that most of the story is based on legend, since Mughal rulers guarded their privacy), plus a short reading list, cap a story based in history, and as romantic as any in folklore. (Nonfiction. 9-12)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780761326090
Publisher:
Lerner Publishing Group
Publication date:
05/28/2007
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
32
Product dimensions:
9.40(w) x 11.90(h) x 0.40(d)
Age Range:
9 - 12 Years

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