From School Library Journal
Gr 3-6–In these folktales, Laird writes as a storyteller would speak, with natural cadence and authentic voice. These tales do not all have happy endings, and sometimes the main characters act very foolishly and suffer the consequences of their poor choices. The message of each story, however, is intelligent and witty, and provides a glimpse into the culture. Although the format and cover illustrations make this look like a picture book, there is a lot of text, making the book better suited to middle graders. The stylized mixed-media illustrations are a good match for the stories. Adl often uses cloth with patterns characteristic of the region in her compositions. The resulting artwork conveys a great deal of fun and exuberance while still reflecting the cultural background of the stories. A well-done and attractive addition to any folktale collection.–Donna Cardon, Provo City Library, UTα(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
All seven entries in this picture-book anthology are Iranian folktales, presented by a duo who knows the country well (Adl grew up in Iran; Laird’s has traveled widely there). But the stories are universal with their trickster and monster characters and themes of betrayal, love, and redemption. The title tale features a mischievous, tiny creature who is desperately poor but also cheeky. After swallowing the huge animals that threaten him, including a leopard and a wolf, he spills them out at an opportune moment and defeats his enemies. “Sparrow’s Quest” begins with a little bird who wants to know what the most powerful thing in the world is and discovers his own strength in the process. And in a great trickster tale, innocent Kayvan the Brave fools those who mock him. Adl’s folk-style collage illustrations in bright watercolor, colored pencil, photos, and fabrics extend the fun with delicate detail and lively scenes, whether the image is of silly, flirty Miss Cockroach or of the giant leopard that leaps out of Pea Boy’s mouth. Preschool-Grade 3. --Hazel Rochman