cover image The Green Musician

The Green Musician

Mahvash Shahegh, illus. by Claire Ewart. Wisdom Tales (NBN, dist.), $16.95 (36p) ISBN 978-1-937786-42-7

In her first book for children, Shahegh retells an ancient Persian story about a talented musician who went to great lengths to secure an audience before the king. The music-loving king, Khoshrow, houses the best musician in his kingdom at his palace. When a boyish musician named Barbad sets out for the palace, hoping to provide for his family, the current favored musician Sarkash—afraid of losing his position—schemes to prevent Barbad from meeting the king. After befriending the king’s gardener, Barbad dresses himself in green and conceals himself in the palace garden to play for the king outside the confines of the royal court. While Ewart’s (The Olive Tree) watercolor scenes can feel somewhat static, she gives Barbad a sense of playful mischievousness as he hangs from a palace tree dressed head to toe in green. Shahegh’s straightforward retelling can be light on detail (Barbad’s lute-like instrument is never identified, nor is it clear how Sarkash keeps him from meeting the king for a full year), though an afterword offers information about the story’s historical underpinnings. Ages 6–up. (Aug.)