________________ CM . . . . Volume XXI Number 27. . . .March 20, 2015


The Amazing Discoveries of Ibn Sina.

Fatima Sharafeddine. Pictures by Intelaq Mohammed Ali.
Toronto, ON: Groundwood/House of Anansi Press, 2015.
24 pp., hardcover & pdf, $17.95 (hc.), $14.95 (pdf).
ISBN 978-1-55498-710-8 (hc.), ISBN 978-1-55498-711-5 (pdf).

Subject Headings:
Avicenna, 980-1037-Juvenile literature.
Islamic philosophy-History-Juvenile literature.
Medicine, Persian-History-Juvenile literature.
Muslim philosophers-Biography-Juvenile literature.
Physicians-Iran-Juvenile literature.

Grades 2-5 / Ages 7-10.

Review by Ellen Heaney.

**** /4


A lovely work in picture book format which belongs in the biography section of primary collections.

     Ibn Sina, also known by his Latinized name as Avicenna, lived in 10th century Persia. As a boy, he was given the uncommon opportunity by his father to study science, philosophy and literature. A narrative in the first person outlines his progress through childhood and adolescence to an adulthood in which he won himself a reputation as one of the greatest polymaths of any time.

      If the story as it is told here accurately reflects the historical record, he was a man not only very learned but very confident in his abilities:

My relatives and friends were amazed by the speed with which I mastered the field of medicine. But I remember telling them that medicine was not a hard science to learn, so it was not surprising to excel in a short time.

     When Ibn Sina was called as a mere 18 year old to consult concerning the illness of Sultan Nuh ibn Mansour al Samani, he succeeded where older physicians had failed.

When the sultan was completely healed, he expressed his extreme appreciation by offering me a golden opportunity. He invited me to stay at his palace and have total access to his personal library. That was how I had a chance to read a great number of books on Islamic law, literature, philosophy, medicine, music, meteorology and architecture.

     There is also reflection on the political temper of the time:

I lived in the midst of political turmoil, in times filled with unrest, instability and looting. This led to frequent fighting between rival cities such as Hamadan and Isfahan.

These circumstances forced me to travel frequently, so I took advantage of the opportunity to seek out new experiences.

     Thus he continued on a lifelong path to master many areas of endeavor. An astonishingly modern theory on brain development – “that learning begins from the moment of birth, not at the age of six when a child enters school” – is put forward in his writings on education. He was also well before his time in the use of anesthesia during medical procedures. The personal telling adds immediacy to this fascinating story. Author Sharafeddine, of Lebanese birth, has written more than one hundred books for children. Richly coloured illustrations are by an internationally acclaimed artist from Iraq. The pictures bleed to the edge of every page and incorporate Middle Eastern design motifs as well as helpful maps of the Persian cities mentioned by Ibn Sina.

Highly Recommended.

Ellen Heaney is a retired children’s librarian living in Coquitlam, BC.

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

Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
Hosted by the University of Manitoba.

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