An unsuccessful foray into Persian history and legend.



An illustrated profile of an ancient queen.

Seven hundred years ago, a 14-year-old girl named Goharshad married the powerful ruler Shah Rukh and became a queen. After moving to Herat, the stunning seat of her new husband’s empire, Goharshad dreamed of transforming her kingdom into something even more beautiful than it already was. For the rest of her reign, Goharshad funded and oversaw artistic projects ranging from the creation of a mosque to the construction of a library and a college intended to include women and girls. Goharshad persisted despite doubts about her decisions, creating a legacy that lasted until war and time destroyed her most impressive creations. This text-heavy book walks an uncertain line between fiction and nonfiction: Many passages that are presented as facts feel rooted in speculation, such as the musings of an “old man” who gathers the jeweled tiles that are all that remains of a building the queen constructed in Herat. Since the author provides no historical sources, it is hard to say what genre this is meant to be. The unnecessarily flowery language—which is, equally unnecessarily, printed in a stylized typeface—and the highly embellished illustrations are troubling and exoticizing. Furthermore, the tragic tone of the final pages renders this story one of loss, leaving readers with a deficit perspective of a troubled region with a rich and vibrant past. A classroom guide on the publisher's website provides extension activities but no further documentation for the story itself.

An unsuccessful foray into Persian history and legend. (Picture book. 8-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-949528-97-8

Page Count: 44

Publisher: Yali Books

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A gallery of diminutive delights—but the appeal is superficial at best.



From the Atlas of Adventures series

A little world tour of little things—from the smallest sea horse to the largest model railway.

With a small trim size suitable to the topic and diminutive narrative type to match (the latter not always a good idea, particularly when the background color is dark brown or purple), this gathering offers armchair travelers a small-scale mix of natural and constructed minimarvels on each continent. The 20 entries are placed on introductory and inset maps, and they’re depicted with miniscule exactitude in painted illustrations—many of these featuring a pair of avid young white tourists to show relative size. But for all that readers will come away with a yen to see the world’s smallest teddy bears in South Korea’s Teddy Bear Museum or play minigolf under black lights in Berlin, not to mention understanding the importance of krill to the Antarctic marine ecosystems, as a travel guide it’s all rather arbitrary and rough-hewn. Many creatures and sites appear on the introductory maps but nowhere else; there are no leads to more information about any of the selected wonders; and measurements throughout are in a casual mix of metric and English units.

A gallery of diminutive delights—but the appeal is superficial at best. (Nonfiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: March 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-84780-909-4

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Wide Eyed Editions

Review Posted Online: Nov. 16, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2016

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Though certainly not a systematic overview of Picasso’s life and career, this intimate, child’s-eye view serves up a winning...


“Picasso was great fun to play with. He liked to romp around on the floor and have pretend bullfights. His tweed jacket was nice and scratchy. He smelled good too. He smelled of cologne and French tobacco.”

To a set of seldom-seen photos taken by his mother, Lee Miller, interspersed with both pictures of roughly hewn toys and playful art created by Picasso and a page of drawings of the titular incident by modern children, Penrose adds appreciative comments and authentically sketchy childhood memories of a renowned family friend. Taken in France and England, the photos offer glimpses of the artist in his studio or posing with young Antony, along with shots of his own children, other friends such as George Braque and artwork done in a characteristic array of media and found materials. Images of colorful works from the author’s personal collection are added as well; the author's little Noah's Ark set appears juxtaposed to a tiny Picasso piece called Mrs. Noah, for instance. The text itself adds playful notes with variations in size and weight, along with occasional wavy lines and is set on solid backgrounds of pale blues, yellows, lilacs and other pastel hues.

Though certainly not a systematic overview of Picasso’s life and career, this intimate, child’s-eye view serves up a winning glimpse of the artist’s personality and unparalleled creative breadth.   (glossary, thumbnail bios) (Memoir. 8-10)

Pub Date: May 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-8109-9728-8

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: April 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2011

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet