________________ CM . . . . Volume IX Number 11 . . . . January 31, 2003


Sindbad's Secret.

Ludmila Zeman.
Toronto, ON: Tundra Books, 2003.
32 pp., cloth, $19.99.
ISBN 0-88776-623-4.

Preschool-grade 4 / Ages 4-9.

Review by Lorraine Douglas.

**** /4

Reviewed from prepublication copy.


I boarded the ship gratefully, but soon realized that I was taken on the vessel as a slave. I was granted a small carpet on which I was allowed to rest. I accepted my fate and spread the carpet on the wooden deck. I fell into a deep sleep and, when I awoke, I was in the port of a new land. The bright moon lit the lovely city, but the people were mourning, for their beloved Maharajah had died the night before.

Ludmila Zeman has created another beautiful volume in her retellings of the stories from The Tales of the Thousand and One Nights.

int art

     In the first book, Sindbad (Tundra, 1999) she introduced Shahrazad from A Thousand and One Nights who keeps the cruel King from beheading her by telling a new story every evening. In her next retelling, Sindbad in the Land of Giants (Tundra, 2001), the sailor has more adventures and horrifying mishaps. Sindbad's Secret follows the same elegant format and page design of the earlier volumes.

     In this adventure, Sindbad is lost at sea, attacked by a hairy creature, and then taken prisoner by elephant hunters. He is a slave on a ship bound for India. When they arrive, he spies the beautiful Fatima who will die according to custom as her Maharajah has just passed away. Deep in the jungle, the hunters order Sindbad to shoot at a captured baby elephant, but with his accurate arrows he slices the ropes freeing the creature. In gratitude, the elephants lead Sindbad to a trove of ivory tusks and aid in the rescue of Fatima from the top of a flaming pyre. This retelling contains all the romance and magic of the original classic stories of Sindbad and his seven voyages. Here we see a handsome hero who succeeds in life because of his compassion for the elephants and love for Fatima.

     The award-winning illustrator has once again used luminous colour and rich texture to create highly detailed paintings with coloured pencils, pencils and watercolours. The pages and text are framed with borders, which look like Persian carpets, and several pages are entirely “carpet pages” in the tradition of illuminated manuscripts. Like Peter Sis, another illustrator from the former Czechoslovakia, Ludmila has a film and animation background. This aspect of both artists' work is evident in the unusual cinematic vantage points and the stunning details which challenge the viewer to take a closer look at their work. It is apparent that The Thousand and One Nights is one of Zeman's favorite books as she has so beautifully created the fabulous world of Sindbad and his very lively and vivacious elephant friends.

Highly Recommended.

Lorraine Douglas is the Youth Services Coordinator at the Winnipeg Public Library in Winnipeg, MB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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