cover image Shahrzad and the Angry King

Shahrzad and the Angry King

Nahid Kazemi. Enchanted Lion, $18.95 (80p) ISBN 978-1-59270-352-4

In this Scheherazade variation, its storyteller heroine becomes a modern child: light-skinned Shahrzad, an inveterate eavesdropper who loves stories, finding them “in peoples’ faces and gestures, in shops and cafes, and throughout the city’s streets” as well as on public transit. “She thought hard about each story she heard, and what it might mean, no matter where she was” (using the toilet and the shower, for example), and both regales others with and documents the tales. When a light-skinned boy at a park tells Shahrzad that he and his family have had to leave their country because their grief-stricken king passed laws that make life unbearable, Shahrzad imagines herself flying in a toy plane straight to the palace to confront the monarch. Art by author-illustrator Kazemi (The Old Woman) appears scribbly and informally stylized, with subtly expressive characters and spreads that are alive with texture and color. As Shahrzad dazzles the king day after day with tales that prod him to consider the consequences of his actions, Kazemi illuminates the storyteller’s gift (and the book’s own): the ability to juggle different points of view, and to use stories as visions for change. Ages 7–up. (Jan.)