The Nightingale

When he learns that the nightingale’s song is one of the most beautiful sounds in the world, the Emperor of China sends his courtiers to find the bird and present it as a guest at court. The nightingale can speak to humans and agrees to come, but when the Emperor receives a mechanical nightingale covered in jewels, he discards the real bird, which flies back to its home. Hans Christian Andersen’s beloved story in which a king learns humility from a bird was written in 1843 to honor Jenny Lind, the famous opera singer dubbed the Swedish Nightingale. This new edition of the childhood favorite features shimmering color illustrations by Russian artist Igor Oleynikov.

A Grain of Rice

When a humble farmer named Pong Lo asks for the hand of the Emperor’s beautiful daughter, the Emperor is enraged. Whoever heard of a peasant marrying a princess? But Pong Lo is wiser than the Emperor knows. And when he concocts a potion that saves the Princess’s life, the Emperor gladly offers him any reward he chooses except the Princess. Pong Lo makes a surprising request. He asks for a single grain of rice, doubled every day for one hundred days. The baffled Emperor obliges only to discover that if you’re as clever as Pong Lo, you can turn a single grain of rice into all the wealth and happiness in the world!

The Lost Crown

Olga, Tatiana, Maria, and Anastasia–like the fingers on a hand, Tatiana the tallest, Anastasia the smallest, Maria the one most desperate for a ring. These are the daughters of the Tsar, the daughters of the last royal Russian family. Acclaimed author Sarah Miller writes with lyricism, criticism and true compassion as she tracks this loving cluster of sisters from the decks of their yacht to the prison walls of their final home. What do abdication and revolution mean to these young women? Told through each of their voices in alternating chapters, we see their day-to-day lives, in many ways, remain the same; they dote on their dogs, flirt with the soldiers, and are followed constantly by guards. But their desires for the future have all but disappeared. As conditions worsen and the provisional government loses power to the Bolsheviks, the girls huddle together to make sense of what is happening. At the same time hopeful and hopeless, naÏve and wise, their voices become a chorus singing the final song of Imperial Russia.

Kubla Khan

Always cast in a supporting role in the many books about Marco Polo, the great Kubla Khan now takes center stage in a splendid picture-book biography. He is a wonderful subject, Ã man who liked to live large, building the imperial city of Beijing from scratch, siring a hundred children, throwing birthday bashes for 40,000 guests. He ruled over the greatest empire of the time, one that was lightyears ahead of Western civilization in terms of the arts, sciences, and technology. With astonishingly beautiful and detailed illustrations by Robert Byrd and a clever text by Kathleen Krull, this portrait finally gives Kubla Khan his due.