Cover of The Sultan's Perfect Tree by Jane Yolen

Sultan’s Perfect Tree, The

I actually wrote this original fairy tale in answer to something illustrator Ed Young said. He’d originally signed on to do the art for the book “The Seeing Stick” and then pulled out of the project saying “I can’t work on this because the princess is not perfect.” (In the book she is blind and a whiner, though eventually she learns to see through her fingers and becomes a fine ruler.) When I questioned the assumption that all Chinese princesses or kings or emperors or empresses were, indeed, perfect, Ed replied, “If they weren’t, then they were not written about.” So this book–about a sultan who insists on having everything perfect until he is taught by a lowly gardener’s assistant that perfection means the end of growing–is my loving answer to a man I greatly admire. Garrison’s etchings are quite wonderful.