Postcards
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A family bedtime story handed down through generations has transformed into a vibrant picture book. In this retelling of an Armenian folktale, writer Lucine Kasbarian and illustrator Maria Zaikina introduce The Greedy Sparrow, a variant of the traditional trickster. Each page vividly depicts the sparrow and his conniving ways as he encounters a baker, a shepherd, a wedding party, and a minstrel—successfully duping them into giving him a prize possession. Does every trickster meet his match? Full-page illustrations add authenticity to the Armenian setting with costume and customs portrayed in full colour, while the backdrop to the picture book adds a personal dimension. The tale originates from the Armenian oral tradition, which was passed down to the writer by her father who, in turn, had learned it from his grandmother. As noted in the publisher’s press release, “the author served as the model for the illustrator’s [Zaikina] rendering of the bride’s features” and “the bride’s wedding costume…bears a strong resemblance to that of the author’s own folkloric bridal gown.” This delightful tale, although directed toward readers ages 4 to 8, would work well for any audience from 4 to adult. The large pages with bold illustrations are eye-catching, and the text is dynamic in its simplicity—a great authentic folk-tale for story-time. This tale is a win-win for both Lucine Kasbraian and Maria Zaikina.

Barbara Zimmer
Lucine Kasbarian (Illus. Maria Zaikina)
The Greedy Sparrow : An Armenian Tale
Tarrytown: Marshall
Cavendish, 2011., 32 p.
ISBN 0761458212 (Picture Book, Ages 6+) [End Page 12]

This novel leads into the dreariness of the suburbs. A resident strangles his wife, and readers later learn that it is the father of the first-person narrator. Mohl stages life in a suburb of Hamburg that, so far, is untouched by gentrification, through the protagonist, his friend, who lifts weights, his dream girl Jackie, who appears beyond his reach, and Edda, who might actually be a better fit for him. And it is she who puts all the calamities of adolescence in a nutshell: “You are 17, it is your right not to feel understood by the world.” Mohl’s story, which is told in time leaps, strives among other things on the concise use of cinematic devices. Fast cuts, flashbacks and flash-forwards (typographically marked with the icons of fast forward and backward buttons of DVD players) keep catapulting the reader into ever-changing contexts. Es war einmal Indianerland is artfully crafted and with its countless neologisms creative and convincing in its use of language. It offers a new and exciting combination of bildungsroman and love story. Mohl is able to accomplish literary storytelling thematically close to his adolescent readers with an open heart and sympathetic ear for his audience.

Linda Dutsch
Nils Mohl
Es war einmal Indianerland (Once upon a time there was Indian’s land)
Berlin: Rotfuchs im Rowohlt Verlag, 2012.
352 p.
ISBN: 9783499215520
(YA novel, age 16+) [End Page 57]

Synopsis: One year has passed since an old woman’s daughter has got married. Now the old woman is missing her. After procuring some gifts for her daughter, she leaves for the neighboring village. Along the way, she comes across a lion, panther and a wolf eager to devour her. She pleads to be eaten on her return to home. However, on her way to home she hides in a pumpkin to escape them.

This book is based on the Iranian fable Kado-Ghel-Ghelleh-Zan (Rolling Pumpkin). The author starts with the beginning of the folktale, but modifies the story in three creative endings. These three narrations attract children to the narrative itself. At the end, Abadi encourages children’s involvement by asking them to guess another ending for this story.

Bahar Eshraq
Ali Asghar Seyed Abadi
When did the Rolling Pumpkin return home?
Illustrated by Alireza Goldozian
Series: Sweet-rooted Stories; 2
Tehran: Ofoq Publishing Press, 2009
(Picturebook; ages 2–7) [End Page 64]

La bambina che ascoltava gli alberi focuses on nature and, in particular, on the importance of being able...