My enormous thanks to Soni Zuberi Shah for sending me a copy of the children’s book 101 Dishes For The Emperor in return for an honest review.
Published on 14th May 2022, 101 Dishes For The Emperor is available for purchase here.
101 Dishes for the Emperor
Food-loving Anwar lives with his mum, Paro, in a humble village in India.
One day, the Great Emperor and his caravan of people are passing by.
What happens when Anwar dares to invite the mighty Emperor to dinner – and accidentally all his followers too?
No matter how frantically Paro chops more onions, mixes more spices and pours more water into her dal, it JUST isn’t enough…
Can Anwar save the day?
Inspired by a true story of sharing, community and food
Illustrated in a unique style that mixes contemporary and traditional Mughal miniature painting.
My Review of 101 Dishes for the Emperor
Anwar has invited the Emperor to a meal.
101 Dishes For The Emperor is a smashing story of community and how success can be achieved through collaboration and neighbourliness, providing inspiration for all readers regardless of age.
101 Dishes For The Emperor reads very much like a traditional tale and would be perfect for sharing with groups of children as well as enjoying in individual homes. I think it could also lead to some wonderful sharing of foods from different cultures within educational settings and the questions at the end of the story could be used to spark classroom discussion, creative writing and oracy.
There’s so much to recommend 101 Dishes For The Emperor because this is a story that celebrates Indian culture, giving interest and an insight into food and tradition to all children as well as status to those who have an Indian heritage. Equally important is the fact that it is a little boy, Anwar, who is the catalyst for action rather than an adult so that children have an example of self worth.
I thought the balance of text to image was perfect because there’s enough space not to daunt independent readers, but sufficient text to make an interesting narrative and to provide depth for shared reading. The language is accessible but not patronising and has a pitch perfect level of challenge too.
It’s impossible to review 101 Dishes For The Emperor without mention of the fabulous, sumptuous illustrations. Whilst Anwar is depicted in a more child like manner that children will be familiar with, the pictures including the Emperor are again traditional in style so that Indian culture is celebrated.
I thought 101 Dishes For The Emperor was simply lovely – even if it did make me hungry!
About Soni Zuberi Shah
Soni trained as an environmentalist and worked in conservation and development. She has also worked in science communication at the BBC and has gone on to work in the arts and community.
101 Dishes for the Emperor is Soni’s first children’s picture book, it is inspired by a true story her father used to tell her about her ancestral heritage. Set in 16 century India, the story is about a little boy who dares to invite the Emperor to dinner to try his mum’s delicious dal. Soni says ‘With universal values of sharing, kindness and the love of good food, 101 Dishes for the Emperor is as relevant today as it was in 16th century India.’
You can find Soni on Instagram.
About Fatima Zahra Hassan
Dr Fatima Zahra Hassan is a London based visual artist, educator, and researcher, trained in Visual Islamic and Traditional Arts. She specialises in Indian, Mughal and Persian Miniature Painting. Zahra has also introduced new courses at the School of Traditional Arts, The Prince’s Foundation London, and the University of London and the British Museum’s joint World Art Programme in South Asian Art and Design held at the British Museum and Asia House London. Zahra has conducted many workshops and has given talks in museums in the UK on Indo-Persian Miniature Painting and Islamic Illustrated Manuscript Illustration. She is part of international research groups and publishes on South Asian and Middle Eastern Art with an approach that bridges the practice with theory.
You can find Fatima on Instagram.