Tarnowska bases this multidimensional if uneven collection of tales on 12th-century Persian poet Nizami's epic poem Haft Paykar. One day, Bahram, the son of the shah of Persia, discovers a secret room in the grand palace built for him by the king of Yemen, to whom the shah has sent his son to be raised. The portraits of seven fetching princesses--from India, China, Russia, Greece, Arabia, Persia and Morocco--line the chamber's walls, and Bahram vows he will one day meet these beauties. After his father's death and his ascension to shah, Bahram invites them to visit his own palace, and they each tell him a story, the morals of which convey the importance of patience, truth, faith, passion, serenity, fairness and devotion to God. Many of the plots are riveting, such as "The Raja Who Dressed in Black," who grows too impatient to achieve a kiss from the queen of Houris (fairies), or "The Story of Good and Bad," in which a good friend forgives the acts of a bad one; but others seem protracted and labyrinthine (e.g., the Moroccan princess's tale). The language does not achieve that of its poetic origins; the prose is often clunky or clich'd (a wealthy Egyptian is described as having been "born with a silver spoon in his mouth"). And readers may be caught off-guard by the abrupt ending of the frame story (Bahram disappears in a cave). Mistry's (Stories from the Silk Road) ornately bordered, gouache paintings effectively portray the thematic and chromatic content of each entry and include some lovely, intricate mosaics and patterns. Tarnowska's retelling offers insight into a range of cultural lore and symbolism, but may prove esoteric for many young readers. Ages 10-up. (Aug.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
Gr 4-7-Tarnowska provides the first English children's translation of Haft Paykar, or "Seven Beauties." Seven princesses leave their homelands upon the invitation of Shah Bahram of Persia and come to live in his palace, each one in a different colored pavilion. The Shah visits a different woman "on the day ruled by the appropriate planet" and each of the princesses relates a tale that entertains as well as instructs listeners. The stories illustrate "the ideals of sovereignty-truth, patience, perseverance, forgiveness, humility, wisdom, and love." Often there is a tale within a tale, and it all becomes a bit convoluted and tedious. The virtues, symbolism, and sensibilities are adult and have little to say to young readers. The length and similarity of the selections are also turnoffs. The gouache illustrations are plentiful and brightly colored. They incorporate some of the motifs of Persian miniatures, but are largely cartoonish in style. A lengthy author's note delineates the symbolism found in the stories. This masterpiece by the 12th-century Sufi poet Nizami may supplement representation of the Middle East in library collections, but it will have difficulty finding an audience on its own.-Kim Donius, Alfred- Almond Central School, Almond, NY Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
The 12th-century Persian Sufi poet Nizami lived in what is now Azerbaijan, where his grave is still a place of pilgrimage. This collection of related tales, based on his epic poem Haft Paykar, recounts the story of Shah Bahram, who is taught and inspired by seven princesses from faraway lands. Bahram constructs a pavilion for each of the princesses, in their colors and inspired by their planets. He visits each on the appropriate auspicious day of the week, and listens to each tell a story. On Saturday, Bahram dresses in black and visits the Indian Princess Furaq in the pavilion of Saturn, where she tells the tale of one who loses paradise for a moment of impatience. On Sunday, he dresses in yellow for the Greek Princess Humay, surrounded by daffodils and sunflowers, and learns from the tale of an emir who fears marriagewith good reason. Bahram continues through the days of the week and the tales, each one ripe with symbolism and rich in color, aroma, and vision. The illustrations, inspired by Persian miniature painting, are sumptuous and exquisitely detailed. The stories themselves each have a hero who needs to learn a particular virtue, and usually end in kisses and marriage. Exotic in tone and a pleasure to look upon. (Folklore. 10-14)