116. The Sindbad Trilogy by Ludmila Zeman

The Sindbad Trilogy
from the Tales of the Thousand and one Nights

Retold and Illustrated by Ludmila Zeman

Paperback editions published by Tundra Books, May 10, 2011

Received review copies from Tundra Books.

Rating: 4/5

1. Sindbad - 1999, 32 pgs (US) - (Canada) - Ludmila Zeman is a brilliant artist and solid storyteller. This beginning book in her Sindbad trilogy tells of two events on Sindbad's seven voyages. But first Zeman sets the scene by very briefly telling us the story of Shahrazad and how she saved her life by telling stories such as these to a cruel king. This book tells tales of how Sindbad mistook a whale for an island, how he mistook a Roc's egg for a mountain and was carried by that Roc into a pit of jewels and deadly serpents. While the story, of course is entertaining, the illustration is breathtaking. Ms. Zeman explains in an Author's Note at the back how she "wanted to recognize Persian influence in the art of book illustration, calligraphy, layout, illumination, and border decoration." Thus she has created illustrations of high detail and authentic ethnicity to accompany the tale, truly blending the art with the story to bring a credible presentation of a Persian legend.

While the publisher has recommend the book for ages 6+, I think the writing style is somewhat mature for the younger audience, and even though this is a picture book, I personally would recommend for ages 8 and up. No one is too old to read this tale, appreciate the art and glean information from the Author's Note. 4/5

2.Sindbad in the Land of Giants - 2001, 32 pgs (US) - (Canada) - The second book in the trilogy starts off in the morning of the next day and Sindbad continues telling his adventures at sea.  This time we have one voyage with several incidents which are quite dark and scary.  So again, I'm noting my personal recommendation for these books as appropriate for ages 8 and up rather than the publisher's 6+.  Sindbad's ship has been driven off course towards the horrible Mountain of Monkeys which is an island covered with a particularly loathsome variety of hairy monkey.  These monkeys swim out to the ship and literally tear it to ragged pieces.  The crew manage to get away on a rowboat and make for the shores of the island where they head for a magnificent castle (the temple at Angkor, as mentioned in the Author's Note), only to find that it is inhabited by a giant beast who captures them, puts them in a cage and promptly roasts the captain for his supper.  Once they escape, having caused grave harm to the Beast they go back to the boat and find that the Beast's brothers are so angry at them that they are destroying their ship thinking they are on board.  The waves cause a terrible turmoil and two survivors, one of which is Sindbad, arrive on an island filled with ferocious man-eating beasts.  Of course, Sindbad makes his way home and the book ends promising us one more tale of Sindbad's voyages.  This story is a dark one and may scare some children, others, perhaps especially boys will thrill at the adventures this time around.  But once again while the storytelling is entertaining, it is the incredible artwork that truly carries the text along.  The Author's Note this time, briefly recounts the Shahrazad story, for those who may not have read the first book, and explains the importance of the Thousand and One Nights to today's society. 4/5

3.Sindbad's Secret - 2003, 32 pgs (US) - (Canada) - The final book in the trilogy starts with Sindbad the Sailor telling his visitor that he will now tell him of his last voyage, where he acquired his greatest jewel of all. Sindbad is among the crew of another ship and is the only survivor when the ship is eaten by a giant sea serpent. Clinging to a piece of wood he survives the ravages of the ocean and eventually comes to rest on the shores of a deserted isle, until he finds a hairy ape man who abuses him and uses him as his steed for some time then he is rescued by another ship only to find he has been taken as a slave. The new men are elephant hunters and take him back to their land where he is put into service in killing elephants. But of course, Sindbad cannot go through with it and once he arrives in this new place he sees a funeral procession with a beautiful bound woman who will be put on top of the funeral pyre to die along with her master. Sindbad figures out a way to save the elephants and the love of his life, Fatima. Thus now at home we see his finest treasure is his wife and their wonderful family of seven children. This book is less scary than the others; nothing really bad happens except for the ship being eaten by the serpent and that is fiddlesticks compared to what we've witnessed in the first two books. The tone in this book is also much lighter and Sindbad's solutions give everyone a happy ending, even the elephants. Finally, the story ends with a moral that Sindbad's visitor easily recognizes as does the reader, that love and family are finer treasures than the best of jewels. No need to comment on the art again as it is as spectacular as in the previous two books and the the book ends with a brief Author's Note which speaks of the culture and philosophy of the Sindbad tales. 4/5


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