I saw this book online and thought it looked fabulous. The famous Aesop fable illustrated by Iranian artist Mahni Tazhibi, published by Tiny Owl publishing house. I am very fortunate that this book has been sent to me for review.
As a children’s story book, you have certain expectations, but Tazhibi’s art transcends mine. The cover is bright and inviting, and the illustration is relatable. Many children’s books are block colours, whereas Tazhibi’s has an innocent, crayon-like quality to it.
The overall style of the page does put me in mind of British Gas’ sphere worlds they have in the adverts, as Tazhibi’s rolling hills are quite literally rolling… beside each other. Because screw gravity right? The choice makes it cute, and the crayon style colouring makes it appear like something a child could achieve. Don’t take that the wrong way, the detail, shading and proportions are that of a very skilled hand, but, on looking at it, a child would be inspired.
As a hardcore anime and manga fan, I will say that I do not personally like Tazhibi’s art. This is exactly the kind of art I would avoid putting on my wall. The human faces are coarse, and the rough texture of the acrylic crayon just annoys me. Also I really hate the sheep noses. I like cleanliness in my artworks. But, as I say, that is my very personal taste.
However, I would encourage parents to include this in their children’s home library (every child needs their own library, that’s just fact). I don’t have kids, but I would happily gift this to my precious nephews, although at two and <1 they are a bit young! Saying that, the print quality is very high. The binding can withstand a reasonable amount of pressure – I tried pulling at a page as if I were tugging it like a child in bed trying to get the next page would. Obviously, it wouldn’t hold together if you purposely attempted to rip it, but the stiff hardback and binding would be able to take a few knocks. The pages themselves have a nice waxy sheen. Again, they are tough enough to outlast light touches from sticky, wet fingers without instantly becoming ruined, but don’t expect miracles.
The antagonist of the story has a great balance of adorable and menacing. With a single picture, Tazhibi captures the wolf character well. It is a dark and scary enemy, which will most likely make children squeal. I particularly like the scratches into the colour to make the shading. However, a floppy tongue and fluffy curling tail softens the monster enough that there shouldn’t be any nightmares.
Aesop’s fables are well known, and The Boy Who Cried Wolf is a very good lesson for kids. It’s a classic, and Tazhibi’s version is beautiful. There is a big thing about #diversebooks going around the internet these days, and I think this is an excellent example that would fit in any home.
More on Tiny Owl
Tiny Owl is a newly established publishing house, founded and run by husband team, Karim Arghandehpour and Delaram Ghanimifard, who wanted to produce books that initially reflected the culture of their home country, Iran, and later, a variety of cultures from around the world. They have some pretty awesome titles at the moment, so I urge you to go check them out at www.tinyowl.co.uk