cover image The Enchanted Storks: A Tale of Bagdad

The Enchanted Storks: A Tale of Bagdad

Aaron Shepard. Clarion Books, $14.95 (30pp) ISBN 978-0-395-65377-7

When the Calif (the ruler of Baghdad) and his Vizier buy a snuffbox from a peddler in the bazaar, they discover an enticing message inside: ``A sniff of snuff, for wings to soar./ Casalavair for hands once more.'' Curious, the men partake and become storks--but the magic word fails to restore them to their human forms. Forced to live on snails and slugs, worms and grubs, etc., the storks eventually happen upon the peddler, actually a sorcerer employed by the Calif's brother Omar, who has assumed the throne. Before this folktale finishes, Calif and Vizier are restored (and the Calif finds a princess bride), Omar is punished and harmony reigns. Well-paced and judiciously seasoned with Middle Eastern flavor, the story is both accessible and exotic. Dianov, a Russian watercolorist making his American publishing debut, adds striking, ornate depictions; their only shortcoming is the lack of differentiation between characters. Even so, the overall effect is splendid. Ages 6-10. (Apr.)