Saturday, 28 December 2013

Usborne Illustrated Arabian Nights by Anna Milborne, Alida Massari, and Sam Chandler (Children's, 7 years +, 9/10E)

 Themes: tales from unknown authors, princesses, princes, poor people, slaves, Sinbad, Sheherazade, Aladdin,

Content: Lots of adventure, some major peril, death, love (mega mild), humour

Summary from Usborne
A gloriously illustrated collection of the most enchanting stories from ‘The Thousand and One Nights’.

From the travels of Sinbad to the wishes of Aladdin, from tales of genies to adventures in magical lands, children will be enchanted by these stories of magic and wonder.

Beautifully designed and with a ribbon marker, this gorgeous clothbound hardback book makes a gift to be treasured.

Nayuleska's thoughts 
Squee! At last I have a copy of an abridged version of the original 1001 Arabian Nights! Although as the informative chapter at the end of the book explains there may not have been 1001 stories...The illustrations are superb. The first few pages of each story has vivid colours all over the pages with elaborate background images. Later on pages are white, some having more rich and mystical looking illustrations. There is a regal purple ribbon to use as a bookmark, and even the inner cover pages are prettily decorated

As for the stories themselves, I think the most famous were chosen for retelling. There is a strong sense of humour in all the tales which had me chuckle away to myself. Here are my thoughts on each story.

The Fisherman and the Genie shows how not all genies are fun and friendly like the Disney Aladdin one, and being quick thinking can save your life.

Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves I vaguely remember reading this story before, but only in this book was I a bit distressed over what happened to the thieves. I know they deserved it, and the slave girl is incredibly brave which counters the grisly bits. Greedy people don't prosper!

The Sultan and the Doctor This is my first time of reading the tale which is full of intrigue and plotting. Not my favourite story but very clever.

The Clever Prince, the Princess and the Genie First time read of another not so nice genie tale.I admired the prince's tactics. I was fuming when the princess fled, leaving the prince to face the genie on her own but her diligence in finding a way to destroy the genie raised my admiration of her.

The Robbers and the Donkey First time read of a funny tale where robbers get away with their crime in an unusual way.

Aladdin and the Magic Lamp As well as being obsessed with the Disney film version when I was little - so much so I even had the glow in the dark pjs - I've read various versions. I was a bit baffled by Aladdin's actions, and annoyed the princess fell in love with him so easily, although at least they chatted lots and found things in common unlike her first husband who got very cold...

The Flying Horse I've read other versions, and I adore this one as it is the funniest. It's a happy romance story with intelligence on both the prince and the princess's side.

The Poor Man's Dream First time of reading this sweet tale where good fortune shines on someone who deserves it.

The Voyages of Sinbad the Sailor I had to skip a few of the stories as they involved creatures that freaked me out, but the rest had me captivated. I feel so sorry for the emotional pain and suffering that Sinbad goes through during his adventures

Of course the background story to Arabian Nights (however many stories there are) is about how Sheherazade managed to stop the king killing her the next day by telling him a story and saying the next story is even better. I liked the different images which were at the start of each story showing the king and Sheherazade, although not all the stories had them which was a shame. I'm in awe of her story telling abilities, and her determination that she wouldn't die. She saved so many girls from death, and finds it in her heart to forgive the king.

Suggested read
More tales are told in Royal Fairytales for Bedtime retold by Mairi Mackinnon & Lorena Alvarez (Children's, 7 years +, 10E/10E) 

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