Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Taj Mahal

Taj Mahal

Caroline Arnold, Madeleine Comora
Illustrator:  Rahul Bhushan 
Nonfiction Picture Book
For ages 9 and up
Lerner Publishing Group, 2007   ISBN: 978-0761326090

In India in 1592 the son of the Mughal emperor Jahangir was born. The new prince was called Khurram and he grew up to be a bright and handsome young man. One day the Prince went to the Meena Bazaar during the Nauroze Festival. This New Year celebration was special because only the emperor and a few specially chosen guests could go to the market on that day. The ladies of the palace were selling special goods to raise money for the poor and since they were unveiled the common people were not allowed to attend.

It was during this event that Khurram saw Arjumand, the daughter of the prime minister. The prince was at once smitten with the pretty girl and after speaking to her briefly, he decided that he was going to marry her. Seeing how taken the prince was with Arjumand, the emperor agreed to allow the young people to marry, even though the Arjumand was not of royal blood. At their wedding the emperor gave the bride a new name, Mumtaz Mahal.

The couple were very happy together and they had many children. Whenever her husband went on a trip Mumtaz went with them. Having his wife with him made Khurram unbeatable in battle and he was such a successful warrior that his father gave him the title Shah Jahan, which means “king of the World.”

Alas, Shah Jahan and Mumtaz were not destined to live together into old age. After the delivery of her last baby Mumtaz died. Shah Jahan was heart broken. He have up wearing colorful clothes and jewels, his hair turned white, and he spent his days grieving for his dead queen. Then he decided to build a tomb for Mumtaz, a tomb with a garden which would be “the most magnificent sight in the world.”

After years of work Shah Jahan’s monument to his wife was complete. It was called the Taj Mahal and nothing like it had been ever built before. The tomb was made of white marble which was decorated with calligraphy and precious stones. In the years to come it would become one of the most visited buildings in the world.

In this stunning book the authors tell the love story of Shah Jahan and his beloved Mumtaz Mahal which great delicacy and poignancy. Anyone who has seen a picture of the Taj Mahal will be moved by their story, and readers will have a new appreciation for what is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful buildings in the world. A section at the back of the book provides readers with further information about the people mentioned in the story, the history of Mughal India, and the building of the Taj Mahal.

To accompany the story Rahul Bhushan has created gorgeous paintings which are reminiscent of the miniature paintings that were created in India during the Mughal Empire. The details in each painting will delight the eye of the reader and each panel is surrounded by beautiful richly illustrated frames.

This is a book which readers of all ages will enjoy and it truly captures the flavor of Mughal India and its history.