Synopses & Reviews
Three-time Newbery Honor Book author Nancy Farmer joins bestselling artist Gail de Marcken in this enchanting, original tale told in the tradition of the Arabian Nights.
Ali is finally old enough to join his father in tending pigeons for the evil Sultan of Cairo. The boy is given a pet pigeon, but warned NEVER to feed it too much, lest it become spoiled and lazy. But Ali feels sorry for his hungry pet and disobeys. When the overfed bird becomes greedy and ruins a plate of the Sultan's cherries, Ali is in big trouble! Now he has only three days to replace the Sultan's 600 cherries from the snowy mountains of Syria. Only then can he save his father from the dreaded Oubliette: a deep pit where a giant demon is waiting!
"In Farmer's (The House of the Scorpion) pleasing tale set in long-ago Cairo, Ali's father holds a crucial position as the Sultan's pigeon keeper. The pigeons carry messages across Egypt to and from the ruler. When Ali overfeeds one of the birds, chaos results, and the boy must come up with a plan to save his father from certain death in the Sultan's 'deep, dark oubliette.' The Sultan demands 600 cherries within three days (that 'only come by swift ship from the snowy mountains of Syria'). Ali uses the pigeons in an ingenious plan to complete the task. Farmer bases her tale in part on an actual 12th-century ruler who craved fresh cherries from Syria and received them via 600 pigeons. The repetition of phrases recalls the oral tradition, though the book's lengthy narrative may deter read-alouds. Resembling a fable in some parts, historical fiction in others, the tale offers glimpses of this ancient culture (e.g., Ali's father has two wives; men and women live in separate quarters). De Marcken's (The Quiltmaker's Gift) watercolors take on the richness and palette of silks. She incorporates Arabic script in the borders and Islamic mosaics behind many of the text blocks. While the story contains several morals, the upbeat surprise ending ensures that they do not feel heavy-handed. All ages." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
In the spirit of "The Arabian Nights" comes a suspenseful new story from a Newbery Honor author. Full color.