________________ CM . . . . Volume VIII Number 8 . . . . December 14, 2001

cover Sindbad in the Land of Giants.

Ludmila Zeman.
Toronto, ON: Tundra Books, 2001.
32 pp., cloth, $19.99.
ISBN 0-88776-461-4.

Subject Headings:
Giants-Juvenile fiction.
Fairy tales.

Grades 1 and up / Ages 6 and up.

Review by Alison Mews.

**** /4


As fate would have it, the most unusual island appeared on the horizon. Its trees were magnificent and gave off a beautiful scent. We kicked our feet in the waves, trying to propel our boat ahead as quickly as possible, happy that the island looked deserted.

As soon as we stepped onshore, however, a beast with one large horn in place of its nose came running towards us at incredible speed. With no time to rest for even a moment, we were forced to run towards a wild river, where another friendly creature with razor-sharp teeth greeted us with wide-open jaws. Our fear seemed to attach springs to our feet and we propelled ourselves up, grabbing a tree branch. The creature did not count on such a large morsel as the horned beast, and floated happily back into the river. My merchant friend and I stayed suspended from the branch until evening, shaking so violently that nearly all the leaves fell off the tree..

Zeman returns to the powerful tales of Sindbad, with this sequel to her lavishly illustrated Sindbad: From the Tales of the Thousand and One Nights, which was shortlisted for two national awards, the Mr. Christie's Book Award and Governor General's Literary Awards. These magical tales are among the Arabian Nights stories that Shahrazad tells to entrance the wicked king and thereby save her life. Again using the frame of a story within a story, Sindbad the Sailor relates his adventures to Sindbad the Porter, thereby employing the immediacy of an exciting first- person narrative.

     Using patterns and motifs from ancient Persia, Zeman has adorned each picture with intricate borders, conveying the appearance of magnificent Persian carpets. These richly textured tapestries softly shimmer as Sindbad describes his ill-fated voyage (actually the third of the seven voyages described in the Arabian Nights). His ship is blown off-course and becomes overrun with hundreds of murderous monkeys; the shipwrecked crew is captured by a gigantic man-eating beast; and after he and one companion swim to safety, his companion falls prey to a dragon-sized serpent. Managing to save himself, Sindbad is discovered and is about to be killed when his incredible story amazes his captors, and they spare his life. Zeman concludes with a cliff-hanger ending, promising the story of his last voyage after a rest. An author's note and hand-drawn map provide the story's geographical and fictional framework. As with Zeman's celebrated trilogy of picture books retelling the Gilgamesh epic, readers of all ages can look forward to a third book continuing the miraculous tales of Sindbad's voyages.

     A note of caution: Not for the faint-hearted, these wondrous tales are the strong stuff of the oral tradition, where beasts tear men to pieces and are vanquished by being pierced through the eyes with bamboo rods. These horrific events are relayed in a matter-of-fact manner, and Zeman's illustrations capture moments just outside the event so that the horror is minimized without compromising the story. Although some sensitive children may find these images disturbing, they are an integral part of Sindbad's compelling adventures which have captured the imaginations of generations of readers.

Highly Recommended.

Alison Mews is the Director of the Curriculum Materials Centre at the Memorial University of Newfoundland in St. John's, NF.

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

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Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364