Sunday, May 13, 2012

The Conference of the Birds by Peter Sis

Penguin Press describes The Conference of the Birds as artist Peter Sis' first book for adults. It is really a picture book - a long one - for all ages. The story is an adaptation of a 12th-century Persian poem. It is about a visionary bird who leads a quest to find a king who will have answers to the troubles of the world: "Anarchy--discontent--upheaval! Desperate fights over territory, water, and food! Poisoned air! Unhappiness!"

Illustration by Peter Sis
When the birds face doubts along their difficult journey, their leader has words of wisdom and encouragement. It is a spiritual search with a pantheist theology. The text is brief, however, and most of the pages are taken up by beautiful, meticulous illustrations. It is a pleasure to handle this book; even the heavy linen paper itself is gorgeous.

Spiritual questioning readalikes for all ages include: The Little Prince (Antoine de Saint-Exupery) and Stormy Night (Michele Lemieux); for more fables, try The Night Life of Trees (Shyam, Bai, Urveti) or Flight of the Hummingbird (Michael Nichols Yagulanaas); and for other intriguing picture books for adults, try The Arrival (Shaun Tan) and either Principles of Uncertainty or 13 Words (Maira Kalman).

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