Happy Norouz! Norouz, also spelled Nowruz or Norooz, is Persian New Year and will start this year on Sunday, 20 March 2016. Who knew? Sadly, I had never heard of this holiday until recently, even though I know several people of Iranian descent. To make up for lost time, I chose the book below:
Title: Two Parrots
By: Rashin, inspired by a Tale from Rumi
Publisher/date: NorthSouth Books, 2014
Suitable for Ages: 5-8
Themes/Topics: Freedom, Persian folktale, parrots
Opening: “Once upon a time, in Persia, there was a merchant who travelled the world for his business. On one of his journeys to India, he received a beautiful parrot as a gift from a friend.”
Brief Synopsis: A merchant showers his beloved parrot with everything, including a gilded cage. A clever trick teaches the merchant that all the riches in the world, without freedom, cannot bring happiness.
Links to Resources: Older children can find out more about the setting of the story, Persia, or modern-day Iran.
Find out more about Norouz at Asia Society Kids. Families can compare the rituals of this Persian celebration with those of other Spring holidays, such as Easter and Passover.
Try preparing Nowruz dishes, like those found in Happy Nowruz: Cooking with Children to Celebrate the Persian New Year (Mage Publishers, 2008).
Try making a Persian carpet, like the ones shown in Two Parrots.
Why I Like this Book: Like many of us of a certain age born and educated in the US, I know almost nothing about the history and culture of Persia, now encompassed primarily by Iran. So I was thrilled to stumble upon the words of Jalaluddin Muhammad Rumi, generally known as Rumi (1207-1273), a 13th century Persian poet, theologian and Sufi mystic, in a picture book illustrated by an artist from Iran. The illustrations are lively and colourful, a perfect complement to this delightful story with an important lesson that without freedom there is no happiness.
This Perfect Picture Book entry is being added to Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Books list. Check out the other great picture books featured there!