“The Conference of the Birds” by Peter Sís

Title: The Conference of the Birds
Author: Peter Sís
ISBN: 9781594203060
Pages: 160
Release date: October 27, 2011
Publisher: Penguin
Genre: Graphic novel, poetry
Format: ARC (Hardcover)
Source: TLC Book Tours
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Click on any of the images to see a larger version!

Based on and taking its name from the classic twelfth-century Sufi epic poem, The Conference of the Birds is a sweeping, simple story, an abbreviated yet epic tale. In this powerful adaptation, Peter Sís explores pain, faith, love, and the meaning of life, and he does so simply and beautifully.


All of the birds in the world unite under a particularly persuasive hoopoe, who leads them to the mountain of Kaf to find their true king, Simorgh. Along the way, they pass through the valleys of quest, love, understanding, detachment, unity, amazement, and death.

Not all of the birds survive the trip. The ones who are left are bound irrevocably to one another, and they discover that they are Simorgh, and Simorgh is each of them.

Peter Sís is a remarkable illustrator. I found myself wondering if I could get away with pulling just a few of the pages from the book to frame on the wall. Evocative and imaginative, his gorgeous illustrations are complex and detailed.

His illustrations shine, and Sís’s prose is mystical and lyrical. He manages to boil a 4,500-line epic poem down into simple, if enigmatic, language, and the sparse words allow the images of the birds and the valleys through which they travel to be the main focus of the book.

Sís both interprets the gist of an ancient poem and creates new art with stark language and complex illustrations.

This book would make a beautiful gift–it even feels expensive, somehow; perhaps that is because of the rich paper stock on which the images are printed.

Though it does not seem explicitly geared toward children, it is a timeless and ageless tale that anyone would enjoy.

Interested? Check out more pictures of the book below, and see what other reviewers on the tour have been saying!

November 1: Bibliophiliac
November 2: Book Snob
November 7: Sarah Reads Too Much
November 8: Library Queue
November 9: Savvy Verse & Wit
November 10: Col Reads
November 15: Wordsmithonia
November 16: Hungry Like the Woolf
November 21: Unabridged Chick
November 22: Seven Impossible Things
November 28: Alexandra Boiger
November 29: Abigail Halpin
December 14: Layers of Thought

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