Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast » Blog Archive » 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #633: Featuring Farshid Mesghali

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“‘Little Black Fish, are you still breathing?’ she asked.”
(Click to enlarge and read text in its entirety)

 

Today I’m showcasing some artwork from Samad Behrangi’s The Little Black Fish, illustrated by Hans Christian Andersen Award winner Farshid Mesghali and first published in Persian in Iran in 1968. An English version was translated last year in the UK by Azita Rassi, and in mid-April a version will be on shelves here in the States (Tiny Owl Publishing).

1705472132 618 Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast Blog Archive 7 ImpsWhen first published, as noted in a closing note in the book, the story was seen as an allegory “for a nation in which it was dangerous to dare to be politically different.” In fact, the book was banned in pre-revolutionary Iran. In the story, the titular fish dismisses his mother’s warnings about leaving the stream that is his world — and the world that belongs to his friends and family. The Little Black Fish is curious and longs for more. “I don’t want to spend my life swimming up and down and around,” he tells his mother, “and then grumbling that there isn’t anything more to life.”

When he does venture out past the stream, he ends up in the river and, ultimately, the ocean. This story is about the creatures he meets along the way, the advice he is given, and the dangers he faces, including a pelican and then the dark stomach of a seabird. The story is told by a grandmother fish to her many grandchildren and even ends on an open-ended note, the elderly fish telling the over eleven thousand fish she’s entertaining that the fish’s fate is the subject of a story for another night. Evidently, the book, this tale of breaking away from what is expected by one’s family and community, is considered the most famous children’s book in Iran. Here are some more spreads. (Note: The text in the UK version, which is what I have, varies slightly from the U.S. version, pictured here.)

 

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“‘Here I am,’ said a gruff voice behind Little Black Fish,
making him start with a splash.”
(Click to enlarge and read text in its entirety)

 

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“At one spot, a beautiful doe was drinking water from the stream. …”
(Click to enlarge and read text in its entirety)

 

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“The further downstream Little Black Fish swam,
the wider and wider the stream became. …”
(Click to enlarge and read text in its entirety)

 

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“Little Black Fish wriggled in the seabird’s beak, but he couldn’t escape ….”
(Click to enlarge and read text in its entirety)

 

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“Little Black Fish was not alone in that dark stomach.
A very tiny little fish was curled in a corner, crying.”
(Click to enlarge and read text in its entirety)

 

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“And that was the end of the grandmother fish’s story. …”
(Click to enlarge and read text in its entirety)

 

THE LITTLE BLACK FISH. First published in Persian in 1968 by Kanoun Parvaresh Fekri, Tehran, Iran. This edition published by Tiny Owl Publishing Ltd in 2017. Translated by Azita Rassi. Illustrations © Nazar Publisher. The moral right of Samad Behrangi to be identified as the author and Farshid Mesghali as the illustrator has been asserted. Illustrations reproduced by permission of the publisher.

Note for any new readers: 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks is a weekly meeting ground for taking some time to reflect on Seven(ish) Exceptionally Fabulous, Beautiful, Interesting, Hilarious, or Otherwise Positive Noteworthy Things from the past week, whether book-related or not, that happened to you. New kickers are always welcome.

* * * Jules’ Kicks * * *

1) Lunch with a friend yesterday.

2) And it was a new (to me) café.

3) Watching some episodes of Cheers with the girls.

4) Listening to Marc Maron’s interview this week with the producer T-Bone Burnett, who used to produce Sam Phillips’ albums (and used to be married to her). She’s my favorite, and I mostly listened to see if he’d mention her (though that man has some great stories to tell about music and should write a memoir). And he did mention her. He praised her songwriting skills. But of course. She is the fifth Beatle.

5) My girls’ impressive abilities to pun.

6) Finding out that a dear friend of mine (and a fabulous librarian) was named Metro’s Librarian of the Year (Metro, as in Metro Nashville Public Schools). So well-deserved!

7) Counting down …

What are YOUR kicks this week?

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