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The Conference of the Birds
“Conference of the Birds” — Retold by Alexis York Lumbard & Illustrated by Demi
Conference of the Birds
Conference of the Birds
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Author(s): 
Subjects(s): 
Children’s Books

Price:  $19.95

ISBN:  978-1-937786-02-1
Book Size:  11" x 10"
# of Pages:  44
Language:  English



Description

Famous children’s book author and illustrator Tomie dePaola wrote to author Alexis York Lumbard about this book, on which she had collaborated with the illustrator Demi, saying, “Congratulations on a lovely book. You [both] have made a wonderful contribution to the world of children’s literature…” Many readers are agreeing that this book is truly unique. It translates an ancient story about questing for virtue into beautiful language that young readers can understand and adds glowing illustrations that illuminate the imagination as well as the pages.

Through its simple poetry and colorful paintings, the story follows the duck, the parrot, the owl, the finch, and others, as they fly behind the wise hoopoe bird, constantly learning to confront their fears and inner weaknesses in order to reach a distant mountain where they will find a new king to help them live happily. Children and adults alike will relate to this inspiring tale about dealing with faults and focusing on such virtues as humility, patience, self-improvement, and courage.

Lavishly illustrated by award-winning illustrator, Demi, and based on an 800-year-old classical tale by the poet Attar, The Conference of the Birds will delight children and provide parents with a wonderful tool for discussing moral and spiritual development with young readers.

AWARDS

  • Finalist in the “Best New Children's Picture Book” category of The USA “Best Books 2012” Awards
  • Finalist in the “Best Interior Design” category of The USA “Best Books 2012” Awards
  • ForeWord  Book of the Year Award Finalist for “Picture Books”
  • Silver Midwest Book Award for “Illustration: Graphic”
  • Silver Midwest Book Award for “Interior Layout”

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“Conference of the Birds”

Famous children’s book author and illustrator Tomie dePaola wrote to author Alexis York Lumbard about this book, on which she had collaborated with the illustrator Demi, saying, “Congratulations on a lovely book. You [both] have made a wonderful contribution to the world of children’s literature…” Many readers are agreeing that this book is truly unique. It translates an ancient story about questing for virtue into beautiful language that young readers of today can understand and adds glowing illustrations that illuminate the imagination as well as the pages.

Through its simple poetry and colorful paintings, the story follows the duck, the parrot, the owl, the finch, and others, as they fly behind the wise hoopoe bird, constantly learning to confront their fears and inner weaknesses in order to reach a distant mountain where they will find a new king to help them live happily. Children and adults alike will relate to this inspiring tale about dealing with faults and focusing on such virtues as humility, patience, self-improvement, and courage.

Lavishly illustrated by award-winning illustrator, Demi, and based on an 800-year-old classical tale by the poet Attar, The Conference of the Birds will delight children and provide parents with a wonderful tool for discussing moral and spiritual development with young readers.

“Late one moonless night in a far corner of the world there gathered a large flock of birds. They gathered in sorrow, since they had been, for so very long, deprived of a king....” Thus begins the magical adventure of these wayfaring birds. With encouragement from their wise guide, the hoopoe bird, they overcome fears, physical hardships, and their own inner weakness in order to reach the heights of the mountain to meet their King. This ancient Persian story has been studied for centuries by scholars and mystics, but this retelling, along with the paintings, now make this wisdom tale accessible to all, thanks to the work of Alexis York Lumbard and Demi.

This is Alexis York Lumbard’s first published children’s book, with two others now scheduled for publication. Having noticed a lamentable absence of high quality books of spiritual substance for young readers, she began writing her own stories since becoming a mother in 2005. With a B.A. in Religious Studies from George Washington University, it is her sincere hope to bring the wisdom and beauty of the world’s religions to the eager and gifted minds of young children. Alexis, her husband, and three children live in Newton, Massachusetts.

Demi is the award-winning author of over 130 bestselling children’s books. Her titles have sold over half a million copies. The Empty Pot was selected by former First Lady Barbara Bush in 1990 as one of the books to be read on the ABC Radio Network Program Mrs. Bush’s Story Time, sponsored by the Children’s Literacy Initiative. Demi’s book Gandhi was named a New York Times Best Illustrated Book and received an Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Platinum Award. In addition, she represented the United States at the First International Children’s Book Conference in Beijing, China, in 1992. She lives with her husband in Yarrow Point, Washington.

AWARDS

  • Finalist in the “Best New Children's Picture Book” category of The USA “Best Books 2012” Awards
  • Finalist in the “Best Interior Design” category of The USA “Best Books 2012” Awards
  • ForeWord  Book of the Year Award Finalist for “Picture Books”
  • Silver Midwest Book Award for “Illustration: Graphic”
  • Silver Midwest Book Award for “Interior Layout”



The reteller and the illustrator of “Conference of the Birds”

Alexis York Lumbard

Alexis York Lumbard is a busy mother and a gifted author of children’s books. Her newest book for World Wisdom (through the Wisdom Tales imprint) is Pine and the Winter Sparrow, illustrated by Beatriz Vidal. It is a beautiful retelling (with beautiful illustrations, too!) of a Native American story about the generosity of a tree to a suffering bird. Angels, Lumbard's previous book, is a small, but very poetical and colorful book for small children. The award-winning Angels was illustrated by the well-known artist Flavia Weedn. Alexis York Lumbard’s first book, the award-winning The Conference of the Birds (also a Wisdom Tales book), retells an ancient classic in a poetic way that is accessible to children. The art found throughout the book comes from the well-known illustrator, Demi.


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Demi

Demi is an award-winning children's book author and illustrator. She has published over 130 books during her career. Born in Cambridge, MA, she studied art at the Instituto Allende, Mexico; with Sister Corita at the Immaculate Heart College in Los Angeles; and was a Fulbright scholar at the Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda, India where she received her Master’s degree. Well known for her biographies of pivotal historical and spiritual figures such as Buddha, Krishna, Lao Tzu, Jesus, Mary, Muhammad, Rumi, Saint Francis, Gandhi, and the Dalai Lama, her book The Empty Pot was selected by former First Lady Barbara Bush in 1990 as one of the books to be read on the ABC Radio Network Program Mrs. Bush’s Story Time, sponsored by the Children's Literacy Initiative.

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Reviews of “Conference of the Birds”

“…This poetic tale follows a variety of birds in their journey across the ocean to the island of their King. Their wise hoopoe guide encourages them to be patient, humble, and brave as they conquer their faults and overcome fears during their flight. The bronze tones and bold colors of the lavish birds are reminiscent of Persian artwork. A great spiritual bedtime story.”
ForeWord Reviews, taken from a description of staff member choices of favorite books for the week



The Conference of the Birds is an illuminated retelling of a work titled Mantiq al-Tayr, by a 12th-century Persian poet named Farid aI-Din Attar. Beautifully illustrated with fabulous artistic renditions of birds done in a celestial style that draws from Chinese, Japanese, and Persian traditions, The Conference of the Birds is a sacred story about the search for enlightenment of the soul, told in effortlessly flowing verse. The fabulously beautiful, enlightened hoopoe addresses his fellow birds, exhorting them to seek to advance to the mystical island home of King Simorgh the wise. Although the story has many obvious Judeo-Christian parallels, it is indeed about the quest for spiritual enlightenment, from the Sufi tradition. Masterfully translated, retold, and illustrated, the story’s appeal is both to the naive and to the advanced mind. Children will grasp some of the essential message of hope in overcoming pride, fear, impatience, greed, and sloth in the ever-demanding search for the ultimate enlightenment of the great King. Each bird has a special obstacle to surpass in their flight. The dazzling and enigmatic ending adds to the mystic and satisfying appeal of the entire story. The Conference of the Birds is a beautiful sacred text, retold for the enjoyment and enlightenment of not only children, but everyone.”
Children’s Bookwatch, a publication of The Midwest Book Review



“Lumbard’s debut picture book retells for a young audience the most famous work by the 12th-century Persian poet Farid al-Din Attar about a pilgrimage taken by birds to meet ‘King Simorgh the Wise.’ Sorrowing because they lack kingly guidance, the birds gather together, receive help from the inspired hoopoe, and depart on their quest. Along the way, individual birds confront spiritual obstacles: the parrot’s heavy jewelry weighs her down; the finch fears the storm; the hawk, seeking to arrive first, becomes lost. Prose narration alternates with the hoopoe’s rhymed speeches of encouragement, which contain a recurring refrain: ‘So do not let this impatience/ Destroy this golden chance./ Release its hold upon you now,/ And to your King advance!’ Set against white full-spread backdrops, red-bordered gilt frames decorated with small birds contain Demi’s uncluttered paintings featuring brightly colored, meticulously rendered birds against pale or royal blue watercolor washes. A foreword by scholar Seyyed Hossein Nasr provides insight into Sufi poetry and bird symbolism in diverse cultures. Both prose and illustrations combine simplicity and elegance, ably rendering this classic tale for a new generation. Ages 4–8.”
Publisher’s Weekly



“This laudable attempt to retell the gist of a 12th-century poem of over 4,000 verses may be of interest to religious educators and parents who want to expose young people to varied spiritual values.

“Attar’s Mantiq al-Tayr has been discussed throughout the centuries, and children and adults in Iran and other Muslim countries have been exposed to its ideas in many different versions. Here, the foreword by Seyyed Hossein Nasr provides background information on the poem, with its Sufi, Islamic and Zoroastrian elements. In the body of the text, rhyming couplets alternate with prose that summarizes the action cut from the original as the birds take on human personality traits. The hoopoe, resplendent in her red head feathers with black tips undertakes the role of leader and urges the birds to travel together to find their king. Along the way, different birds despair and try to leave the pilgrimage, but they find the strength to continue as the hoopoe helps each one to overcome its particular limitations. The duck is lazy, the parrot has too much finery weighing her down, and the finch is fearful, but all stay faithful to the search, which ultimately leads to great enlightenment. Demi’s delicate watercolor-and–mixed-media illustrations, each bordered with a frieze of multiple bird images in every position of flight, suit the text admirably.…”
Kirkus Reviews



“A flock of birds, of many kinds and colors, gathered on a dark, moonless night. They were steeped in sorrow. They had no king to give them wisdom or keep the peace or make sure laws were upheld. A strange, beautiful bird, a hoopoe, arrives that has black-tipped feathers and a sacred prayer on her beak. She speaks beautifully and brings the birds a message of hope, telling them of a king who waits for them. She tells them the journey is long and arduous, but well worth the trouble. The duck doesn’t want to leave the comfort and ease of his pond, but the hoopoe convinces him his laziness will keep him from something splendid. As the trip goes on the parrot tires, weighed down with gold and jewels. The hoopoe convinces the parrot to give up worldly riches for something greater. One or another of the birds has other troubles along the way, but the hoopoe brings them all to the conclusion of their journey.

“Alexis York Lumbard has beautifully retold this ancient story of Persia in a combination of prose and poetry. Illustrator Demi has filled the pages with opulent, jewel-toned drawings and designs.”
Sacramento/San Francisco Book Review


Excerpts from The Conference of the Birds

From the web site of our children's book imprint, Wisdom Tales, we have two links below that show how the book looks in detail. Click on one of the links below to open a pdf of the page spreads to see samples of the text and illustrations in The Conference of the Birds. The text, translated into simple verse, is by author Alexis York Lumbard, and the illustrations are by renowned illustrator Demi. Note: If your browser displays pdf files itself, rather than opening pdf files in Adobe Reader, you may see the pages one above the other, rather than as a “spread,” which is how they would look when the book is opened and showing two pages side-by-side. To see a more accurate view of the pages, right-click on a link and select “Save Target As” or “Save link as” and save the pdf file to your computer; you can then open it with Adobe Reader.



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