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Sinbad: From the Tales of a Thousand and One Nights

by Ludmila Zeman

The marvellous adventures of Sindbad the Sailor are among the world’s great stories and this new picture book retelling is a welcome addition to the many versions of the tales of A Thousand and One Nights. Ludmila Zeman has pictured Sindbad’s story in lovingly detailed images based on Oriental art. The result is a book full of rich textures, subtle colours, fantastic creatures, and imagination-stretching landscapes.

While the language is not as confidently handled as the art work, Zeman’s approach to both suggests the fascinating storyteller whose tales expand into more tales. She begins with the framing story of Sharazad, whose ongoing narratives kept the King from beheading her, then moves to Sindbad’s fabulous accounts of danger (being shipwrecked and carried off by giant birds and dropped into a pit of serpents) and improbable rescue. A final picture of a mysterious beauty riding horseback through the night sky recalls the opening picture of Sharazad and suggests how the stories will go on and on.

Reflecting the framed structure of these stories, Zeman makes generous use of borders that recall Oriental carpets and often echo an element in the text — for example, there’s a serpentine border around the snake pit episode. Full of sly humour, her pictures are lavish and intricate but never stilted, and draw the reader into the fun and action of the tale. Reflective pictures of musing storytellers or sun-bathed tropical islands alternate with scenes of intense activity or comically exaggerated anxiety. Sindbad is a picture book that offers extended pleasure to readers of any age.


Reviewer: Gwyneth Evans

Publisher: Tundra Books


Price: $19.99

Page Count: 32 pp

Format: Cloth

ISBN: 0-88776-460-6

Released: Feb.

Issue Date: 1999-2

Categories: Picture Books

Age Range: ages 6+