cover image Shahnameh: The Persian Book of Kings

Shahnameh: The Persian Book of Kings

Retold by Elizabeth Laird, illus. by Shirin Adl. Frances Lincoln (PGW, dist.), $24.99 (136p) ISBN 978-1-84780-253-8

Laird’s retelling of revered Persian poet Ferdowsi’s 10th-century epic poem (60,000 verses strong, it’s the national epic of Iran) takes the form of haunting scenes with a fiery cast of characters rivaling those of the Greek myths. The short prose passages detail the rise and fall of kings, forbidden romance, the wrath of demons, the betrayals of sons and fathers, and magical creatures. Borders of winding vines, dotted with birds and flowers, surround Laird’s text, while larger, vivid images are set within borders that recall Persian rugs. Adl’s gangly cartoon humans, demons, and animals are given depth by fabric, metallic, and other textural accents. With captivating villains and otherworldly adventure, it’s a retelling with obvious appeal to fans of myth, folklore, fantasy, and ancient culture. Ages 7–11. (Oct.)