Who Is the Strongest of Them All?
by Shahrzad Vaziri
Trafford Publishing

"Yes, you little Bird. I am the strongest of them all. I’m also the hungriest of them all, and I’m going to gobble you right up!"

There is power in literature. Beyond storytelling, it reflects culture, language, and heritage. This explains government and non-government organization efforts to preserve, discover and retell fables and folktales that have been passed down from one generation to another. This book falls under this endeavor. Vaziri intends to retell Persian folk tales and engage younger readers with one of the world’s oldest literatures.

Who Is the Strongest of Them All? is a story of a curious bird seeking an answer to the question built into the title. After struggling to find food and water one snowy morning, the bird thinks the ice is the strongest of them all. But the ice dismisses the idea and points him to the Sun. The little bird then talks to the Sun, and like the ice, it dismisses the curious bird’s conclusion. He is directed to the cloud, the wind, and the mountain, among others, until he decides to go back to his nest and hide.

Vaziri supports the narrative with illustrations that capture the folk tale’s essence. He carefully raises a new question at the end, giving readers a chance to create their own versions of the tale. This approach opens a way for the readers to get outside the limits of the narrative and discover their own unique way of storytelling.

The retelling of this Persian folk tale offers evidence that there is a lot to learn from our heritage, and this wisdom is not necessarily reducible to our preferred religious practices. Literary products are generally sui generis, touching the universal core of humanity.

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