Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday is hosted by Kid Lit Frenzy and was started to help promote the reading of nonfiction texts. Most Wednesdays, we will be participating and will review a nonfiction text (though it may not always be a picture book).
Be sure to visit Kid Lit Frenzy and see what other nonfiction books are shared this week!
Tales from the Arabian Nights: Stories of Adventure, Magic, Love, and Betrayal by Donna Jo Napoli
Author: Donna Jo Napoli
Illustrator: Christina Balit
Published October 11th, 2016 by National Geographic Children’s Books
Summary: Classic stories and dazzling illustrations of princesses, kings, sailors, and genies come to life in a stunning retelling of the Arabian folk tales from One Thousand and One Nights and other collections, including those of Aladdin, Sinbad the Sailor, and Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves. The magical storytelling of award-winning author Donna Jo Napoli dramatizes these timeless tales and ignites childrens’ imaginations.
Review: This short story anthology of Arabian mythology was fascinating, captivating, and beautifully written and illustrated. The layers of themes and stories built upon each other to create a collection that is a wonderful introduction to true traditional literature.
One thing that I at first struggled with but then ended up loving was how stories overlapped with stories. The main story was that a young woman was telling her husband a story every night to keep him in suspense so that he keeps her alive for another night. So within her story, she is telling stories. Then sometimes the characters in her stories, to help her add suspense and cliffhangers, will tell stories. So that meant at times the story you were reading was a story within a story within a story. Sounds confusing but the way it was explained and implemented allowed for the tactic to do what the young woman hoped it would do for her husband–I just had to keep reading!
I also, in my ignorance, had not read any Arabian traditional literature as I only knew the pop culture versions, so I loved learning about the culture and history through their folk tales.
Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Greek mythology is taught throughout school; however, there are folk tales and mythology from so many other cultures. I would love to see more Arabian folk tales taught during mythology units (and why not more folk tales and mythology from other cultures as well!). Donna Jo Napoli along with Christina Balit already have anthologies for Egyptian and Norse (and Greek), so those are a good place to start!
Discussion Questions: What are some themes you see throughout all of the tales?; How are the stories you were familiar with different than the popular culture versions you knew?
“Princess Budur unfoldedthe letter and her own ring dropped into her palm. She read the letter. At last! She planted her feet against the wall and strained until the iron around her neck snapped. She pulled the curtain aside and threw herself into Qamar al-Zaman’s arms. On that day they were wed.” (p. 72-73)
Read This If You Love: The Arabian Nights by various and other Middle Eastern or Asian stories and folk tales, mythology
**Thank you to Karen at Media Masters Publicity for providing a copy for review!!**