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The Secret Message    by Mina Javaherbin & Bruce Whatley order for
Secret Message
by Mina Javaherbin
Order:  USA  Can
Hyperion, 2010 (2010)
* *   Reviewed by Bob Walch

Based on a poem written by the 13th century Persian poet Rumi, this is the story of a clever parrot who is imprisoned in a golden cage far from his home in India. Owned by a wealthy Persian merchant, the parrot attracts visitors to the man's shop in the bazaar.

One day the merchant tells his family he must go to India to purchase more goods for his shop. When he asks his wife and daughters what they would like him to bring them, he receives a list of requests. Asking the parrot what he would like, the man receives this reply:

'I don't want any gifts,' the bird says. 'But when you pass through the forest and see other parrots like me flying free, tell them I live far away. Tell them I miss flying with them, I miss their sweet voices, I miss the smell of the trees.'

The merchant travels to India, were he completes all his tasks and gets presents for his family. On his way back to Persia the merchant encounters some parrots and tells them what his caged parrot said. What happens next is both strange and troubling.

When he returns to his home, the man reluctantly tells his parrot what he saw. And, once again, the poor man sees a reenactment of what occurred in the jungle.

Without going into more detail, let it suffice to say this is the tale of how a clever parrot was able to trick his owner into setting him free. As you'll see, the ruse worked, but you will only discover what it was if you read this story.

The exotic setting and colorful characters are all captured by Bruce Whatley's excellent illustrations. A witty and humorous story from Persian literature, The Secret Message is appropriate for readers four years of age and older.

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