Many thanks to Lucine Kasbarian for my copy of The Greedy Sparrow, An Armenian Tale.
I believe a combination of cultural and narrative authenticity, accessibility, and entertainment in a retelling of a folktale can be very difficult to achieve, but Kasbarian—in concert with Zaikana’s strong illustrations—has done just that. She has also managed to avoid the didacticism that can be difficult to suppress in traditional tales, while allowing messages about greed and kindness to filter clearly through.
Russian illustrator Zaikana’s bold, colorful lost-wax illustrations give the reader a real feel for Armenian culture, traditional dress, landscape, and architecture, and manage to convey some tricky concepts in a thoroughly humorous and appealing way.
It's wonderful to see an Armenian oral tradition not only being kept alive, but shared with a much wider audience with this first in-English retelling of this tale in a picture book.
The Greedy Sparrow
Retold by Lucine Kasbarian
Illustrated by Maria Zaikina
Marshall Cavendish 2011