Emir's Education in the Proper Use of Magical Powers is an enchanting book for children, young adults, and adults. It explores the nature of reality, life, and death with poetic grace and humor. The author creates a lovingly made fantasy world where all things have a purpose even before their creation and all children are sacred even after they've grown up.
The story begins during the early days of Earth. The king of a brand-new kingdom decides to send his son, Emir, out into the world to learn of its wonders and then to pass his newly acquired knowledge on to their people. At first Emir doesn't want to leave behind his pets and his toys, and travel the world in a boat that might be caught in a terrible storm or sink, but Emir's father insists. He says that it is for Emir's benefit that he sends him. In order to become an adult Emir must learn of the strange and unknown peoples, creatures and plants that inhabit their world and find a solution to the kingdom's problem of overcrowding in order to become an adult. Emir leaves home and has one beautifully surreal adventure after another, meeting with ancient mythological gods and goddesses, surviving a nearly fatal storm, encounters with Conscience and Inspiration, taking part in a parade comprised of historical figures who have yet to be born, even leaving his body temporarily, and finally he returns home with an abundance of wisdom and knowledge. He explains the importance of seasons and that everything must have its season, its time on Earth but that time is not eternal. He bestows unto his people a great gift, death, which makes life only that much more precious. Emir transcends life and death, time and space, and shows us humankind's potential for nobility, courage, compassion, and sacrifice.
This book is a wonderful way to introduce children to the concepts of life and death. Author Jane Roberts tells a tale that both simply and eloquently probes the human heart and exposes our potential for greatness. Emir's Education is deeply spiritual and philosophical, but never dogmatically religious. It's an open-minded book for open-minded individuals.
The story is enriched by the illustrations of Lynne Cherry, whose artwork perfectly captures the cultural diversity of our world while creating a uniquely and superbly rendered vision of a place and time that never existed.
This book will appeal to children ten and older, though they may not appreciate its depth and insight, or have the capacity to accept its final message about the necessity of death. As for adults, the text is both comforting and disquieting. As human beings we could learn much from one such as Emir; that faith and logic aren't always contrary, that vulnerability is a form of strength, that inspiration is divine, and that love is eternal. The book is full of personal revelations that will inspire and provoke. Its message is universal and undeniable: We must face our own mortality and yet take comfort in the knowledge that our existence held some purpose, though that purpose is beyond our human comprehension. Only in death can we observe our reason for living... but only in life, through our love, can we learn not to fear death.
"No bird soars too high, if he soars on his own wings." -William Blake
"A first sign of the beginning of understanding is the wish to die." -Franz Kafka
"And I will show that nothing can happen more beautiful than death." -Walt Whitman
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