cover image THE PRINCE WHO RAN AWAY: The Story of Gautama Buddha

THE PRINCE WHO RAN AWAY: The Story of Gautama Buddha

Anne F. Rockwell, , illus. by Fahimeh Amiri. . Knopf, $16.95 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-679-89188-8

Amiri's (Babri) traditionally drafted, brilliantly colored Persian miniatures illuminate this retelling of the life of Buddha in every sense of the word. Paintings framed with pools of lotus blossoms and banks of swirling clouds follow the young man born to a rajah and his queen, as he leaves behind a life of wealth and searches for enlightenment. Showing several events in a single panel, Amiri paints the prince leaving his horse and servant, donning yellow robes, and cutting his hair. Later, as he sits under the famous great Bo Tree, he defeats a multicolored army of wild-eyed demons who tempt his resolve, and begins to preach and attract followers. Rockwell's (Only Passing Through) accomplished prose ("His hair was black and shining as the night, and his skin was burnished dark gold like the morning sun") blends factual information with fanciful miracle tales. This multilayered picture book can be read on many levels, as a classic quest by younger readers or as a spiritual text that will spark discussion and reflection for more sophisticated readers. Amiri's paintings serve, like mandalas, as a source of much of its complexity and depth. Ages 7-10. (Nov.)