cover image The Rose's Smile: Farizad of the Arabian Nights

The Rose's Smile: Farizad of the Arabian Nights

David Kherdian / Author, Arabian Nights / Author, Stephano Vitale / Ill

Radiant, jewel-toned compositions with ornate borders lend a vibrant glow to Kherdian's (The Road from Home) atmospheric retelling of one of Scheherazade's lesser-known tales. A benevolent sultan marries a peasant maiden after he overhears her heartfelt wish to bear him first a son and then a daughter: ""Upon her lips would be the smile of the rose, and my Sultan would be so proud."" Her wishes come true, except that her jealous sisters replace her newborn infants with dead animals and send the babies downstream, where they are both adopted by kindly gardeners. Years later, resourceful Farizad with the rose's smile embarks on a quest to perfect her garden with three magical gifts. In the process she rescues her brother from an evil spell and they reunite with their royal parents. Working in his distinctive, oil-on-wood style, Vitale (When Stories Fell Like Shooting Stars) here turns to Persian art for inspiration. His flat, balanced paintings showcase his intense but subtle use of color, and he interprets the more magical sequences with verve (e.g., his fantasy landscapes merge the crocuses of springtime with the barren branches of winter). The result is a storybook as sweet as a rose. Ages 4-7. (Sept.)