Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

Parents' Choice Awards : Books : Picture Books
Clever Ali

Clever Ali

Fall 2006 Picture Books
Ages: 5 - 11 yrs.
Author: Nancy Farmer
Illustrator: Gail de Marcken
ISBN: 0-439-37014-0
Hardcover Price: $17.99
Using a host of folkloric conventions, Nancy Farmer builds this somewhat lengthy tale around an actual event. In A.D. 1190, an Egyptian ruler had fresh cherries flown to his palace by carrier pigeon: six hundred pigeons with two cherries each. In Farmer's version, it is the clever son of the royal pigeon keeper who comes up with the solution to the Sultan's craving and thus saves himself and his father from a horrible fate—or so he thinks...until his own greedy little bird swoops down and eats one of the 600 cherries reserved for the Sultan's pleasure. The telling has a graceful oral cadence; the illustrations are vibrantly colored and nicely laid out; and the calligraphic borders echo the opening poem “In Praise of Books.” All in all—an attractive package for anyone who enjoys a good tale handsomely presented.
Kristi Elle Jemtegaard   ©2006 Parents' Choice
Kristi Elle Jemtegaard is the Coordinator of Youth Services for the Arlington Public Library system. She has taught courses on children’s and young adult literature at the Catholic University of America and the University of Virginia. She has served on both the Newbery and Caldecott Award Committees of the American Library Association and has chaired the Notable Children’s Recordings Committee and the May Hill Arbuthnot Award Committee. She is a member and past president of the Children’s Book Guild of Washington DC and has chaired the Washington Post–Book Guild Nonfiction Award Committee. She is a founding member of Capitol Choices, an organization of professionals in the field of children’s literature in the greater Washington DC area. She regularly reviews children’s literature and audio productions for a variety of national publications.

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