Ali Seidabadi, Bijan and Manije, illustrator Marja Vafaian, translator Azita Rassi

Tiny Owl, 2016, ISBN 978-1-910328-14-9

Bijan and Manije is a re-telling of a story from Shahnameh (the Book of Kings), a collection of Persian myths and legends from many centuries ago, brought to life for children by Iranian poet and author Ali Seidabadi, and well translated by Azita Rassi. When the Armenians send word to King Khossow of Iran that their territory is over-run by terrifying boars, he offers a gold plate full of jewels to the knight who will rescue them. Bijan takes up the challenge, and sets off, accompanied by the head of the army, who takes off in fright as soon as they reach the forest. Alone, Bijan traps all the boars and ties them together. In fear that Bijan will tell the king of his flight, the army chief lures Bijan to some beautiful gardens, without telling him that they belong to a terrible despot, King Afraisab. Bijan falls in love with the king's daughter, Manije. When the king finds out, Bijan is condemned to death. Manije saves him from execution, but he is thrown into a well, and a huge rock over its mouth prevents him from escaping. Manije manages to get food to him. Meanwhile, the army chief, full of guilt, returns to King Khossow's court and recounts what has happened. Iran's greatest knight is sent to rescue Bijan. His strength overcomes all obstacles. He, Bijan and Manije ride back to Iran, where the lovers marry, promising each other a 'happy ever after'.

An epic tale of love, this is very arrestingly illustrated by Marjan Vafaian. The story has been well edited by children's book expert Nicolette Jones to make it read well for a contemporary young audience. A high quality publication from Tiny Owl, publisher of an impressive range of beautiful picture books from Iran and beyond.