The Penguin Press
a copy of this book was provided through TLC Book Tours
The Conference of the Birds, author and illustrator Peter Sis's first book for adults, is an adaptation of a classic twelfth-century Sufi poem. In Sis's lavishly illustrated version, a four thousand five hundred line poem is crystallized to a visual poem with a few spare poetic lines interspersed across pages of intricate images.
The poet Attar wakes from an uneasy dream and finds himself tranformed into a hoopoe bird. The hoopoe bird addresses all the birds of the world, promising to lead them to a King, Simorgh, who lives on the mountain of Kaf. The hoopoe leads the birds across the seven valleys: quest, love, understanding, friendship, unity, amazement, and death. Finally, only thirty birds have survived the journey. As the book closes, the thirty birds fly over a lake and see that they, together, are the king, and the Simorgh the king is each of them.
The images in The Conference of the Birds should be savored. The artwork on these pages is both intricate and subtle, and the story is told through cumulative layers of color, pattern, and symbolism. Images of circles,labyrinths, dharma wheels, and eyes alternate with mountains, hills, and valleys. Some pages are the faded tea color of an old map, while others are soaked with sumptous, heavenly blue.
The Conference of the Birds is a book to be apprehended rather than understood. If you have ever found yourself poring over a beautifully illustrated children's book long after your children are in bed, or if you enjoy allowing understanding enter through your mind's eye, this book will appeal to you. The Conference of the Birds is a sturdy, lovingly designed book obviously meant to be read and handled over and over again.
To have a look at the author's illustrations and view his other books, see the author's web site: