Once there was a wealthy merchant who loved all his possessions, but his favorite by far was the talking parrot who entertained him with old legends and tall tales. The merchant surrounded the parrot with a beautiful garden and fountains, but he kept the parrot locked in a golden cage, fearful that one day the parrot would fly away.
One day the merchant left for India. His parrot asked that he deliver a message to his brothers in the jungle. "Tell them I often think of the days when we flew freely from branch to branch-and please, Master, bring me back their reply." So the merchant traveled to India. He delivered the parrot's message, and then watched in dismay as each of the birds fell lifeless to the ground. What would his pet make of this reply?
This tale from the thirteenth century Persian poet Rumi has a clever twist sure to delight young readers. Suzan Nadimi, who retells this tale, lives in North Carolina; the illustrator Ande Cook lives in Georgia.