Book Review: Prince of the Birds

Reading Level

Ages 9-12

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The folks at Frances Lincoln do a great job of introducing young readers to cultures other than their own. One of the company's latest titles, Prince of the Birds, is no exception.

This fun little book tells the story of a Moorish prince in long-ago Spain who befriends the birds and finds his true love through the power of belief and magic. In the process, the reader is introduced to the culture and customs of the Moors, who lived in Spain and North Africa several hundred years ago. The story is enchanting, and so are the illustrations, which add a touch of realism to what is, in effect, a fantastic story.

The story is based on a tale told by one of America's earliest popular writers, Washington Irving, who himself got it from a collection of Spanish tales from long ago. Elements of fantasy and magic are present, as is a nice reverse-Rapunzel touch involving the lovelorn prince, not his true love.

As a story to pass the time, this is a good one. As an introduction to the medieval culture of Spain, this is a great book. The illustrations, especially reveal particulars of the culture. (This should come as no surprise, since the author, Amanda Hall, began her publishing career as an illustrator.) Under the guise of a medieval tale, this story imparts a message of empowerment for young readers, suggesting to them that they have more of an influence on their future than they might think.

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