The Secret Message

32p. 978-1-42311-044-6.
K-Gr 3—Javaherbin retells a story taken from an ancient Persian poem, "Parrot and the Merchant," by Jalaledin Rumi. It is the tale of a wealthy merchant who keeps a parrot in his shop whose colorful feathers, singing, and talking attract many customers. When the merchant travels to India on a shopping trip, he promises to bring something home for each family member, including the parrot, whose unusual request leads to his own freedom. Colorful cartoon-style acrylic artwork shows people in traditional dress and brightly colored birds and reinforces the capably written storytelling. Whatley includes touches of humor in several of the illustrations. While this is not an essential purchase, it offers an interesting twist that could lead to a discussion of the meaning of freedom.—Susan Scheps, Shaker Heights Public Library, OH
A pet parrot asks its owner, a rich Persian merchant traveling to India, to tell the parrots there about its wonderful golden cage. Upon receiving the message the parrots fall over, apparently dead--craftily sending an escape-method message to their caged mate. Despite some stereotyping in text and illustrations, this amiable tale is effective in its own obvious way.

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