Last week, I was lucky enough to spend an evening listening to Peter Sis present his beautiful new book, The Conference of the Birds, his first for adults. I’m a huge Peter Sis fan as well as a lover of print books, but I think anyone with an appreciation for beauty would recognize that this book does something that an e-book could not ever hope to achieve. This retelling of an ancient Sufi poem is printed on paper that has weight and texture, and the rich colors of the flocks of birds and wonderful landscapes that cover its pages draw you in as much as the story itself. The detail is compelling, making you linger on each page.
In Sís’s version of the poem, the hoopoe bird leads a quest for the true king, Simorgh. Birds of all kinds make an epic voyage through the seven valleys: quest, love, understanding, friendship, unity, amazement, and death. The hoopoe warns them that the trip will be perilous, and many of the birds are afraid to make the trip. Those that continue reach the mountain to learn that Simorgh the king is, in fact, each of them and all of them. In this lyrical and richly illustrated story of love, faith, and meaning, Peter Sís shows the pain, and beauty, of the human journey.
What a wonderful gift for some special person!
The Conference of the Birds, Penguin Press, $27.95