The Perfume of Memory

The Perfume of Memory

by Michelle Nikly, Jean Claverie
When a disgruntled Grand Vizier causes the queen and her subjects to lose their memories, a perfume-maker helps them remember with evocative scents she creates. A sensitive, imaginative fable enhanced by lush paintings, the story features a strong-willed heroine in a mysterious land.


When a disgruntled Grand Vizier causes the queen and her subjects to lose their memories, a perfume-maker helps them remember with evocative scents she creates. A sensitive, imaginative fable enhanced by lush paintings, the story features a strong-willed heroine in a mysterious land.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Like Proust before them, Nikly and Claverie create an homage to the interlinking significance of scent and memory. Against a mysterious, Middle Eastern-style backdrop, young Yasmin sets her sights on becoming the Royal Perfume Maker--but the law proclaims that only boys can study perfumery. Encouraged by her father, himself a perfume maker, she enters one of her scents in an annual contest celebrating the queen's birthday. But before the queen gets to Yasmin's entry, she lifts the stopper of a dangerous scent concocted by the scorned Royal Advisor, which erases the queen's memory. While Yasmin cannot undo the villain's damage, she uses her perfumery skills to recreate the important scents of the queen's past to help restore her memory. Nikly's instructive tale is sophisticated yet accessible, though some readers will balk at the idea that it was the evil Royal Advisor who penned the story. Claverie's dreamy watercolors hint at a Middle Eastern decorative tradition but retain a charming simplicity. His soft palette of pink, dusky blues, gold and tan plays off the buttery yellow paper providing a frame for each illustration. The book's tall, narrow trim size and elegant design add to its appeal. Ages 4-8. (Oct.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Children's Literature - Julie Steinberg
The setting is an ancient and fragrant land, where each year saw a contest to see who could make the best perfume for the queen's birthday, and all children once aspired to the lofty post of Royal Perfume maker. But alas, a little girl hurrying to school one day spilled skunk odor on the Royal Advisor and, from that day forth, it was decreed that only boys could be perfume makers. Brave Yasmin secretly learns from her father how to make perfume. She surreptitiously enters her fragrance in the contest. But the queen chooses another, an evil fragrance that makes her forget all her memories. The distraught king promises to fulfill the wishes of anyone who can cure his wife. Yasmin knows just how to help. She secures an audience with the queen and places perfume vials on a tray before her. One by one, Yasmin opens the bottles and explains the memory to which each fragrance is linked. The queen's memories come flooding back to her as each flask is uncorked. A new law allows girls once again to create perfumes.
Library Journal - Library Journal
Gr 3 Up-In this noble story, a child heroine restores the queen's memory by bringing her fragrances that remind her of her childhood, just as the girl's own father had done for her to keep alive the memory of her dead mother. Although females are not allowed to become the Royal Perfume Maker, Yasmin enters the contest for this position. A former Royal Advisor, seeking revenge, has entered the perfume Forgetfulness that erases the monarch's memory. Despite having been unjustly overlooked, Yasmin shows fairness and kindness and, as her reward, requests that a Royal Storyteller be appointed and asks that the former Royal Advisor be given the position. As in any well-written fairy tale, beauty of language is not sacrificed to simplicity and each sentence and phrase create a clear scene that is easily visualized. Pages of text alternate with pages of illustrations, with a partial border on the text pages to bring them together. The artwork, done in beautiful pastel shades of salmon, lemon, and other varieties of color, creates a sumptuous court with rich fabrics and vast spaces, while the simple folk wear dull but crisp garments in shades of gray and beige. Additional sketches in the margins provide further interest and emphasize events in the story. This is a delightful presentation of an important theme, the power of memory, with a strong and just female protagonist. The difficult language makes the independent reading level fairly high, but certainly worth the effort, and the story will be enjoyed by third graders as a read-aloud.-Marlene Gawron, Orange County Library, Orlando, FL Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A pretty and pleasing picture book in an unusual tall format, with a piquant story redolent of faraway places. Long ago in a place that has the look of North Africa, a perfume maker lives with his daughter. Girls aren't supposed to make perfume—the result of an unfortunate historical blunder involving a girl, essence of skunk, and the Royal Advisor—but Yasmin does, and enters the perfume contest for the queen's birthday. The queen is taken, however, by the "perfume of Forgetfulness," and forgets who she is. Yasmin brings her back by offering her the scents of memory: the Casablanca lily from her parents' home; the oils of myrrh and eucalyptus that anointed her when she became queen. The pages are lemon colored; the illustrations, with their echoes of Moorish decoration, are in golden-washed color enlivened by black-and-white sketches, in the manner of medieval drolleries, that reflect and augment the main images. Yasmin gets her wish, that a Royal Storyteller be named so no one would forget ever again, and the position goes to the Royal Advisor, imprisoned for his making of the perfume of Forgetfulness; "the first thing he wrote down was this story." (Picture book. 4-8)

Product Details

Scholastic, Inc.
Publication date:
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
7.04(w) x 12.94(h) x 0.45(d)
AD790L (what's this?)
Age Range:
4 - 8 Years

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