Shahrzad and the Angry King is one of those books that I did not know if I liked or not. Now, I am not saying that Nahid Kazemi wrote a bad book, but they did write one of those picture books that has a lot going on and it is not a one time read. Also, I think what I had was only an online sample from Edelweiss, so perhaps some parts were missing. But regardless, there was enough there to really sink my teeth into.
This book came out in January 2022, and I was just finding it. The right book comes along when it comes to you. And mid-December 2022 was that time. You see, I think this is the right book as it would make an interesting holiday gift. The publisher description explains the book better than me: A rebel dreamer of a girl daydreams about her role in making the world a better place–and since dreams bleed into reality, maybe she really does.
As a gift this book works because it is a layered book. you have the nice story of a girl doing girl-power. You have a story of creativeness and cleverness. You have a story about grief and healing. And you have a book of imagination. Maybe Shahrzad is seeing the king of the other land and helps him overcome his loss, maybe she just imagines what she could do. That part is up to you, the reader. This book is a straightforward story, so older listeners could enjoy. But the subtle nature of grief and loss is better for the older reader/listener, even adult.
Now the illustrations are probably what threw me off. The cover gives you the color scheme and style. However, it does not show Shahrzad herself. With her bushy, villainous eyebrows. Her evil look. Her…okay maybe I exaggerate. A little. Our young heroine has a less than traditional look for a hero of a story and it was a little off putting to be honest. The rest of the characters and overall, the illustrations are pleasant enough but having your main character who is on almost every page is a bit odd. Still, I did enjoy the book and while it might not be my favorite, it is one I recommend.