‘I am Babur…At the young age of twelve I became king of Ferghana, and at the age of fifteen I ruled two kingdoms.’ A proud boast made by the Emperor Babur in his autobiography which is here presented in a retelling aimed at a young audience. It is a lively narrative and Babur certainly emerges, as history has judged him, a charismatic ruler of intelligence and culture, a thoughtful philosopher and poet and an outstanding military commander. It is to be commended that there is now a version of this classic, the Baburanama, available for a wide audience of young readers because it is indeed a tale full of excitement and action, setbacks and triumphs – and, though it is Babur himself who is telling the tale, his reflections particularly on the role of a leader (in this case a king and emperor) are still very relevant. He is very human as he expresses his love for his family especially his son. The choice of Jane Ray to illustrate the story is inspired. Her jewel like colours and compositions reference Mughal art bringing both the period and the setting to vivid life. It is important that such texts that expand the awareness of a world beyond our borders should be available in schools and libraries for all communities
My only reservation – this is not a fictional story but a historical narrative that includes warfare and the creation of an empire by invasion. Perhaps something for a conversation between parents, teachers and young readers?