I had a teacher once who read short stories from a paperback book filled with Arabian tales. They were confusing at times but fast moving with action and mystery. This new book by Donna Jo Napoli, with gorgeous, whimsical illustrations by Christina Balit, is a stunning achievement.
I began reading not from the beginning but from the back where extras captured my attention. I found a detailed map of the Middle East pinpointing many of the locales in the stories. A helpful glossary gave me an idea of what was in store. Names like Aladin, Sinbad, and Ali Baba were familiar but there were others I hadn’t recalled. King Yuban & Sage Duban along with Maaruf the Cobbler caught my eye.
Turning to the front, a Table of Contents revealed more with titles of the 25 stories. Of course not every one of the original Arabian tales are here. The author had to make both selection and writing choices. She did a superb job. There is a natural flow to what she rewrote from the originals – many of which may have first surfaced before the 14th century.
This is a book for your lap or spread out on a table. I kept it close for a week. Every time I had the TV on I’d mute the commercials and delve into another chapter. The stories are intended not only for middle grade readers but also adults who want to escape into this magical time period.
THE OFFICIAL BLURB
Tales from the Arabian Nights: Stories of Adventure, Magic, Love and Betrayal by Donna Jo Napoli (October 2016, ages 8-12) — Classic stories and dazzling illustrations of princesses, kings, sailors and genies come to life in a stunning retelling of the Arabian folk tales from One Thousand and One Nights and other collections, including those of Alladin, Sinbad the Sailor, and Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves. In this beautiful, gift-worthy book, beloved author Donna Jo Napoli not only brings these timeless tales to life but also includes sidebars that connect the stories to history, culture and geography.
Enjoy your weekend. Have fun, relax, and READ!