Bahar is determined to help her family earn more money than what she makes selling rugs at the local bazaar. So, she decides to become a fortune teller. After some lucky “accidents” telling correct fortunes, the king has summoned her to the palace to be his fortune teller. How will she get herself out of this situation without the king and everyone else discovering the truth that she’s a fraud?
PreS-Gr 4–The granddaughter of a rug weaver from Iran takes inspiration from his craft to compose her own gorgeous tapestry, part folktale and all heart. Bahar and her mother feel blessed that the girl’s rug weaving skills are enough to cover their daily portion of wheat and milk. One day, Bahar visits the town baths and lets out a laugh at a most inopportune moment—when the chief fortune-teller’s wife is on the premises. Bahar, paying attention to the wealth of the woman, decides her rug-weaving days are over and that she will try her hand at fortune-telling. With this decision comes a series of mishaps, misunderstandings, and mischief as Bahar fakes her way to the top. This will be a story hour favorite from its first reading, and the fact that Bahar continues to face ever higher stakes as she bemoans her bad decision will have listeners leaning in for every suspenseful moment. The slate blue, vivid red, and gold folkloric paintings provide a sumptuous backdrop in the beautiful city of Kashan, a setting that can be pored over almost endlessly. VERDICT Kheiriyeh’s original tale is surprising and funny every step of the way, and sure to be a hit.
Bahar, a young Persian girl, supports her mother and siblings by selling her rugs at the Grand Bazaar of Kashan.
One day Bahar is bathing at the hammam when she sees the chief fortuneteller’s wife walk in, “proud as a camel.” Imagining herself “wrapped in…riches of a fortune teller,” Bahar decides her weaving days are over and that her fortunetelling will rescue her family from poverty. Soon she is tasked with finding the king’s cat, and the mayor demands she find where the 40 thieves hid the king’s crown. If she doesn’t, she will be punished. Soon Bahar “misse[s] the peace and safety of weaving her rugs,” yet in humorous and improbable ways she is able to solve each task—but not without attracting the king’s attention as well as that of the jealous fortuneteller and his wife. With the help of happenstance and an “old Iranian proverb” she passes the last test and cements her lucky status. Kheiriyeh’s smudgy, stylized depictions of Bahar capture her happiness while weaving and her determination to be a great fortuneteller. Her color palette—reddish-orange, blue, and mustard-yellow—blends well together, adding richness to the setting. The noses of the chief fortuneteller and his wife are caricatured to the point of distraction, but the device does aid in their characterization.