The Conference of the Birds

Retold by Alexis York Lumbard
Illustrated by Demi

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Alexis Lumbard has taken a 12th century Persian poem, modernized it, and made it fun to read. This is the story of a search for the King. The birds of the land were in search of somebody who would lead and care for them. They flew all across the world, searching for their King. There were many problems to be faced along the way; one of the biggest problems for each one of the birds was their depth of commitment. How far were they willing to go, and what were they willing to give up to be able to come before the King?

The many different birds will each come face to face with their own deepest fears: Am I strong enough? Am I worthy? Can I give up my beautiful jewels? Can I stand before him as I am, without pretext?

The Conference of the Birds is beautifully illustrated, and will be a wonderful book to read together with fourth graders on up. Some of the younger students may not be able to read it by themselves, but it will be a perfect lead-in for a discussion of inner core self-esteem values we each face. Questions such as: “Am I pretty enough?” or “Am I important enough?” can become the gateway to conversations about what is important in life. The story can be used to encourage those who need a little extra confidence as they begin their individual journeys attempting to figure out how they feel about themselves. This book would help to encourage reading skills, as the child will enjoy trying to comprehend the drawings and the story.

This book can also be used to relate to many different religions as the basic truths here are important to all peoples. The book is a rewrite of a Persian poem written by Farid ud-Din in the 12th century, and is an analogy of man’s spiritual search for God. The original poem is approximately 4500 lines.

Demi’s vivid paintings will catch any youngster’s eye, displaying each birds ego and personality, the detail will hold their attention as they follow the trail to the King. There are so many beautiful birds to identify. The ending will be a pleasant surprise, as they learn, along with the birds, where the King resides.

Islamic scholar Seyyed Hossein Nasr has written a forward that will introduce the background and culture of the original poem.

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