Wednesday, November 18, 2009

REVIEW: Rumi: Whirling Dervish

Demi.  (2009).  Rumi:  Whirling Dervish.  China:  Marshall Cavendish Children.


Rumi is a beautifully illustrated picturebook biography of the life of the famous mystic poet Rumi.  Born over 800 year ago in Afghanistan, Rumi was taught by his father and became a preacher.  Late in life his was "awakened" and he recited MAD amounts of poetry.  He also created the Whirling Dervish dance, which the book describes.

Within the biography, Demi includes a handful of lines of Rumi's poetry.  His artwork appears traditional in style, incorporating a lot of gold into the detailed designs.

Using a picturebook like this could ease middle grade and even high school students into a lesson on Rumi's poetry in a much more enjoyable way than an old photocopied article.  This is not, by any means, a fast-paced, exciting adventure novel, but it does give a fair overview of Rumi's life with beautiful artwork on each page.


This picturebook would be an excellent introduction to a unit on poetry, to Middle Eastern history or to some islamic practices.

Rumi includes some insights into the Old Testament as well.  It can be used to discuss the connections among various religions and how the belief in one God is about love.

Quotes of Note:

"A long time ago, on September 30, 1207, a boy was born in the city of Balkh in Afghanistan.  His parents named him Jalaluddin, "Splendor of the Faith."

"Jalaluddin loved learning new things and having his father as his teacher.  Then one day, when the boy was twelve, news came that a terrible warrior, Genghis Khan, and his Mongol army were conquering their homeland."

"But after his spirit had been awakened, he began to recite more than 50,000 rhymed couplets.  He felt like he was no longer in control.  Instead his creative spirit was in charge."

"Rumi circled and circled.  'Round and 'round he went, without stopping, for thirty-six hours, until he fell to the ground."

"Whirling dervishes danced to his words, spinning out their love for God."

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