In my art school days, I was
drawn to the Persian
and indian court art of the Mughal dynasty at Boston's Museum of Fine Arts. The
exquisitely jeweled royals and inquisitive explorations of
birds, beasts, and flowers drew me into their world.
Then I came across the Persian tale about the Abu
Kassem's slippers cut into a wonderful novel, a story within a
story. Fascinated by the timeless wisdom in the
tale, how things in our past inform our present and future.
I was inspired to retell the story and set it in the
kaleidoscopic world of the Mughal courts.
The Bengal tiger was my choice for this character.
I visited three national parks in India (Bandhavgarh, Kanha, and
Panna), and was rewarded with a rare close-up sighting of a large
roaring male and many creatures I remembered from the
I revisited many more museum galleries once home, and
the artwork inspired an imagined world where tigers wear rubies,
and peacocks give blessing to tiger cubs.
|| Set in India, this gorgeous
reimagining of the classic Middle Eastern folk tale "Abu
Kassem's Slippers" features a poor tiger cub who is a very
hard worker. His mother weaves him slippers to protect his
feet from stones and thorns, and they allowed him to
prosper--first making bricks, then building houses, and
eventually becoming very wealthy. He continues to wear them
until someone questions why such a prominent person would
wear such worn shoes. Feeling embarrassed, Tiger tries to
get rid of the slippers, but fate keeps bringing them back.
Finally, Tiger sends them to his uncle, who weeps with pride
when he sees the slippers his sister made and his nephew
used to accomplish so much. He sets off right away to visit
them, bringing the slippers along. Tiger can't believe the
slippers are back again, but his little cub gives him an
idea: honor the slippers by building a special place for
them, to remind him of how far he's come.
Jan Brett's lush, vibrant version of this story will inspire
fans of her international retellings to appreciate the hard
work that leads to all of their successes.
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