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Ed Young illustration from Iblis

Iblis

Iblis

Illustrated by Ed Young
1994, Harcourt Brace & Company

An ALA Notable Book

In the Islamic version of Adam and Eve's fall, Iblis (Satan) holds center stage. He has tried, readers learn, for 500 years, to sneak into Paradise. Finally, perceiving the serpent's vanity, Iblis promises her immunity from illness, old age, and death in return for being smuggled into Eden in the nick of her teeth. The same vanity is Eve's undoing. Iblis appears to her in dazzling splendor, claiming that his transformation from human to angel was wrought by the forbidden fruit (here a grain of wheat). God's retribution swiftly follows and punishments-pain and loss-are meted out to the humans, their animal companions, and Iblis himself.

A book for all ages.

Reviews:

In the Islamic version of Adam and Eve's fall, Iblis (Satan) holds center stage. He has tried, readers learn, for 500 years, to sneak into Paradise. Finally, perceiving the serpent's vanity, Iblis promises her immunity from illness, old age, and death in return for being smuggled into Eden in the nick of her teeth. The same vanity is Eve's undoing. Iblis appears to her in dazzling splendor, claiming that his transformation from human to angel was wrought by the forbidden fruit (here a grain of wheat). God's retribution swiftly follows and punishments-pain and loss-are meted out to the humans, their animal companions, and Iblis himself. Young's dramatic pastels and watercolor artwork juxtaposes the dark shadows of evil with neon-bright swaths and splotches of electric color. The images, abstracted-or depicted in such extreme closeup as to give the effect of abstraction-recall the Islamic injunction against representation, although departing from it. The three pages depicting the serpent's corruption, merging the faces of Satan and snake, are particularly effective. Based on a 9th century scholarly version, the text is charged with the tension, while Young's rich paintings bridge our temporal and cultural distance from the source to bring its message powerfully home.
--School Library Journal

A retelling of the Fall, based on an Islamic version dating from the ninth century. The angel Ridwan has guarded Paradise against Iblis (Satan) for 500 years. When Iblis tries to corrupt the peacock by promising to save him from old age and death, the bird refuses but sends him ``Eve's favorite companion, '' the serpent, who shudders at the evil in Iblis's face but succumbs to his persuasion. Concealed as a mote of dust in the serpent's teeth, Iblis is carried into Paradise; swearing blasphemously by his Creator's name, he persuades Eve to eat of the forbidden ``wheat tree.'' The story ends with the expulsion; Iblis is condemned to eternal torment and the peacock deprived of his fine voice. Oppenheim's clean, melodious retelling is stunningly complemented by sweeping spreads in sumptuous pastels and watercolors. Two complex meldings of the serpent's head with a woman's face are intriguingly ambivalent; otherwise, Young captures the story's emotional resonance in simple impressionistic images and luminous color, exploring his palette's nuances from magenta and sunlight yellow to midnight's dark hues. A beautiful and powerful offering.
-- Kirkus Reviews

Readers familiar with the Genesis account of the expulsion from Eden will be fascinated by the contrast of details in this Islamic version. Iblis--Satan-- dwells beyond the gates of Paradise. Through cunning and deceit, he plays upon the vanity of the peacock and serpent and gains entrance, eluding the angel who guards the gate with his flaming sword. Promising her youth and health, Iblis tricks Eve into eating the fruit of the wheat tree. Once she and Adam have eaten, God's wrath drives them from Paradise, condemning Eve to painful childbirth, the peacock to loss of his melodious voice, the serpent to loss of her legs, and forcing Iblis to "be cast back into the torments of all eternity." But expelled through the gates of Repentance and Grace, the human pair are reminded these gates are also entrances back into Paradise. Young's pastel-and-watercolor images deftly capture the elusive, shape-shifting Iblis as he transforms from a black-horned shadow to a fanged face hidden between the serpent's teeth, to a bright and seductive angel, to the green-tailed monster cast into the river of Hell. Striking cover art introduces the motif of the peacock's feather; deep in the feather's dark "eye" is the hint of Iblis' fanged manifestation. In a thought-provoking reversal of color usage, the erring creatures are driven from the dark, protective shadows of Paradise into the fiery glare that awaits them outside. Oppenheim's fluid retelling is based on writings of a ninth-century Islamic scholar. Introductory notes indicate her source and briefly compare this version with the Judeo-Christian story. A unique offering and an outstanding aid to understanding the continuity between Islamic and Western culture.
-- Booklist