June 27, 2018

Tales from the Arabian Nights: Stories of Adventure, Magic, Love and Betrayal by Donna Jo Napoli - Illustrated by Christina Balit

Arabian Nights or One Thousand and One Nights is a collection of folk tales from the Middle East. The first English version translated from Arabic dates back to the beginning of the 18th century. Donna Jo Napoli retells twenty-five of these stories, some of which are popular titles like Aladdin, Sindbad the Sailor, and Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves.

The story begins with Shah Rayar, a king, who after his wife's betrayal is convinced that all women are unfaithful and wicked. To prevent himself from being hurt by women again, he would marry daily and execute his new wife the following morning. Scheherazade, the viziers daughter, bravely offers herself as a bride to the king in hopes that she could stop the killings. On their wedding night, Scheherazade begins weaving her stories of great adventure with genies and fantastical beasts. With the end of each story, another one begins. Enthralled by her stories, and eager to hear more, Shah Rayar delays killing her for another night.  Scheherazade's wit and charm saves her and the many lives of innocent women. The writing aptly demonstrates the growing affection and relationship between Shah Rayar and Scheherazade at the beginning of each chapter while also preparing the reader for the next adventure.

The illustrations by Christina Balit are collage like and colourful. Mosaic patterns fill much of the space with accents in gold. Along the sides of several pages are some snippets about the animals and cultures relevant to the story. The design of the book effectively make it appear to be less text heavy with the use of borders and extra imagery. Included is a map of the Middle East for reference, a bibliography and an index, being especially useful as many of the names are difficult to pronounce and remember. This is the fourth anthology written by Donna Jo Napoli and illustrated by Christina Balit for National Geographic. The previous volumes are about Norse, Egyptian and Greek mythology. Recommended for ages 9+.

Amazon | Book Depository
National Geographic Partners 2016
Hardcover 208p
9.4" x 12.1"

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