Review: The Phoenix of Persia

BooksforTopics Reading for Pleasure Recommendations

Book Title: The Phoenix of Persia (available here)

Author: Sally Pomme Clayton

Illustrator: Amin Hassanzadeh Sharif

Publisher: Tiny Owl

Publication Date: May 2019

Most Suitable For: KS1 & KS2

The Phoenix of Persia is a modern retelling of one the stories from the Shahnameh, an epic poem by the 10th century Iranian poet, Ferdowsi. The book is published by Tiny Owl, who really has delivered a rich offering from acclaimed author and storyteller, Sally Pomme Clayton.

As the story unfolds, we hear of a king whose son is born with white hair and so is banished to the forest. The boy is saved by a phoenix or 'Simorgh' – a character that still enthrals us in tales from all parts of the world. The magical creature takes care of the baby, who grows up to be Prince Zal, the hero of many other stories in the Shahnameh. It’s a story of forgiveness and what it is to be truly wise, and it has echoes of folk stories and myths from other cultures passed down from generation to generation.

There are many things that make this book special. The sumptuous illustrations from award-winning illustrator Amin Hassanzadeh Sharif are a visual feast. At the front of this book is a QR code, which links to an audio retelling of the story, narrated by the author, with original music played on traditional Iranian instruments, each of which represent different characters within the story. Moreover, the book comes with a teacher resource book full of ideas for cross-curricular links.

This hardback edition feels like a masterclass in the art of traditional storytelling and can be explored in so many ways, which children will love. This is definitely a book to treasure.


You can order The Phoenix of Persia online or from your local bookshop or library.

Many thanks to the publisher for sending us a review copy of this book and to our Review Panel member for reviewing it.


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