retellings of world stories
I've been travelling about the world since I was two years old, and left New Zealand with my family to come to Britain. And on my many travels I've encountered the most wonderful story telling traditions, and have made collections myself from storytellers who still hold their audiences spellbound as they relate the great old tales. Click on the pictures below to find out more.
I've always loved the stories from the Shahnameh, ever since I discovered them in a dusty old children's encyclopedia when I was a little girl, and I've never understood why they are not better known in the west.
Who could resist the giant bird who brings up a special white-haired boy in her mountain nest? Or the wicked king, who has snakes growing out of his shoulders? Or the wonderful hero Rustam, who knocks out a raging elephant with one blow of his mace when he is only ten years old?
There are many fabulous characters in Shahnameh: a rebellious blacksmith, a brave warrior girl, beautiful princesses, proud kings, horrible demons, and super heroes of gigantic strength and courage.
Shirin Adl has painted the most beautiful illustrations to go with the text. She's picked out the colours and ideas from some of the world famous manuscripts of the past, and put them into her own funny, clever, and original pictures. They glow like jewels.
the ogress and the snake
"People! I smell people!" growled the Ogress, looking towards the pen where the sheep and goats were settling down to sleep. "Catch them! Hook them! Kill them! Cook them!"
I collected the tales in this book from many different Somali storytellers on the eastern fringe of Ethiopia, where many Somali people live. I sat with teachers and their pupils in the shade of a tree; I was entertained in people's homes, over braziers of incense; I crowded in with a group of laughing midwives, and I lolled on carpets in an emir's palace in the ancient walled city of Harar, while a cloth merchant kept me spellbound with his magnificent stories. You'll find princes and villains, a great whale, a mischievous fox and, of course, an ogress and a snake in this book. As far as I know, these stories haven't been translated into English or written down before, which makes them rather special.
two crafty jackals
A good story is like a river. It starts from far away and travels on and on, passing through one country after another, bringing life and pleasure along its way.
The stories in Two Crafty Jackals began their lives in India more than two thousand years ago, and they have been travelling ever since. They passed through many ancient languages, and more already more than a thousand years old when they were translated into Arabic. They jumped from Arabic into Persian, and they just went on travelling, into Afghanistan, Georgia and Turkey, and eventually into all the European languages.
These lovely stories, all wrapped in one another so that one begins beofer the last one has ended, tell the tale of Dimnah, a crafty little jackal, who sets out to get the better of the mighty King of Lions, and Dimnah's brother Kalilah, who tries to stop him from making too many mistakes.
The 500 year old pictures in this book come from a exquisite manuscript, which is now in the Aga Khan Museum in Toronto, Canada.