The Phoenix of Persia

Sally Pomme Clayton, illustrated by Amin Hassanzadeh Sharif (Tiny Owl, 2019)
More Details
In 2018, I received ACE funding to produce a picture book and original music score composed by Iranian musicians. The project included cross-curricular teacher resources for KS1/2 and 25 resource boxes distributed by School Library Services and a programme of over 20 events.
KIRKUS REVIEW
A brother and sister in Iran run to the public park to listen to a storyteller backed by musicians narrate the tale of Prince Zal and the Simorgh, an ancient wise bird with the powers to make dreams come true. Zal is born to a Persian king and queen who have long awaited a child. However, when the king sees that the child’s hair is white as snow, he banishes the babe. The Simorgh finds the crying baby abandoned in the forest and raises him with her chicks, teaching him poetry, science, the history of the universe, and all else a prince needs to know. The king finds Zal after 16 years of regret and offers him the throne, but Zal prefers to stay with the mother who raised him. The Simorgh saves the day with her wisdom, the storyteller and musicians pack their gear, and the little children can’t wait to hear the remainder of the story the next day. This beautiful, traditional tale is illustrated with a touch of magic by Sharif, who uses jewel-toned colours applied with a scratchboard effect that seems to pick out every feather on the Simorgh’s body. A QR code provides access to the soundtrack, in which each character is “voiced” by a different traditional Iranian instrument (explained in the backmatter).