Characters & Activities

Update! This fabulous Arabian Nights Adventure is out now – take a look inside

Kings Jester 9781911030126

One day a tailor invites the king’s jester to his home to enjoy a festive meal of fish with his wife. But the jester swallows a bone and chokes to death. Fearing punishment the tailor and his wife try to get rid of the corpse. This sets off a series of increasingly bizarre happenings and unfortunate events. The King’s Jester is an exquisite collection of tales that blend comic humour with an incisive portrayal of social relations … with gripping results!

You can check out the opening chapter of The King’s Jester right here.

Take a look inside The Fisherman and the Jinni – our latest Arabian Nights Adventure


A sparkling lake set amidst lovely hills is full of fish of an unusual beauty. But when the sultan orders his cook to prepare some, the task is trickier than it seems.

The Fisherman and the Jinni is one of the great tales from The Arabian Nights. Enter a world of enchantment and discover an extraordinary web of beautifully interwoven stories.

You can check out the opening chapter of The Adventures of Harun al-Rashid, Caliph of Baghdad right here.

Take a look inside The Adventures of Harun al-Rashid, Caliph of Baghdad


Caliph Harun al-Rashid goes disguised through the markets of Baghdad where he chances upon various strange encounters: a beggar who implores the caliph to strike him and a youth who spurs cruelly a mare upon which he rides. Bewildered, the caliph orders them to attend his palace so he might uncover what lies behind their odd behaviour. Back at the palace two more strangers arrive: a merchant with a mystery to solve regarding some olives and a young man with a beautiful falcon. These strangers are four unfortunate souls, victims of folly and misfortune who come in search of justice and redemption. Here are their stories.

You can check out the opening chapter of The Adventures of Harun al-Rashid, Caliph of Baghdad right here.

Take a look inside The Three Princes, the Princess and the Jinni Pari Banou

Three Princes_Cover

The sultan of the Indies has a suspicion. Could it be that Ahmed his son and Ahmed’s wife wish to dethrone him and take over his kingdom? As a test of their intentions the sultan, egged on by the sorceress Shahd, makes various demands of the pair. But how will Ahmed and his wife respond as these requests become more and more outrageous? Drama, intrigue, magic, mischief and sorcery are all aplenty in this incredible tale from The Arabian Nights.

You can read the opening chapters right here.

Take a look inside The Tale of Zubaidah and the Three Qalandars


The Tale of Zubaidah and the Three Qalandars is a collection of breathtaking stories from The Arabian Nights. This new edition offers a fresh and exhilarating retelling by Kelley Townley. As always Anja Gram’s illustrations are simply marvellous.

A brass horse and rider sit atop a dome at the peak of a magnetic mountain, drawing passing ships to a certain doom along the rocky shores of its base. A young woman arrives at a coastal town to find its inhabitants motionless, petrified in stone.

Wild imaginings and outlandish plots are hallmarks of these tales that chart the adventures and fortunes of Zubaidah, her sisters, and three qalandars, sons of sultans forced by fate and folly to roam the earth as impoverished beggars.

Prepare to be spellbound by tales of treachery and revenge, evil enchantments and epic battles, justice and redemption.

You can read the opening chapters right here.

Take a look inside Aladdin and his Wonderful Lamp


The story of Aladdin and his Wonderful Lamp is beloved by young and old alike. Take a look inside this wonderful new edition written by Kelley Townley and illustrated by Anja Gram.

Aladdin is a poor boy who lives with his mother in the ancient kingdom of Cathay. One day a strange man appears offering untold riches and young Aladdin is sorely tempted. Join Aladdin on his incredible adventures and visit the cave of treasures. A world of magic awaits you but watch your step – there’s mischief lurking at every turn!


Take a look inside The Adventures of Prince Camar and Princess Badoura


The Adventures of Prince Camar and Princess Badoura is a rarely-told gem from The Arabian Nights. In this new modern edition you’ll find a wonderful retelling by Kelley Townley with beautiful illustrations by Anja Gram. Here you can read the opening chapter.

A young prince defies his father and is banished to a draughty old abandoned tower. A beautiful princess turns away all her suitors and so is confined to her chambers inside a magnificent palace of jewels. Thanks to the antics of two magic genies, the royal pair meet one night as they sleep – and are magically transported back to their own beds before morning. But was it a real encounter or an enchanted dream?

Mischievous genies, secret identities, evil birds, hidden treasure and more: join Prince Camar and Princess Badoura on their epic adventures as they search for each other across the ancient lands of Arabia. With only the tiniest of clues to guide them, can they succeed?


Take a look inside Gulnare of the Sea


Gulnare of the Sea is one of the enduringly entertaining tales from The Arabian Nights. A mysterious lady is brought to the palace of a great sultan but she never utters a word and does nothing but stare at the sea – all day, every day. Eventually her story unfolds and we are treated to a sumptuous tale of enchantment, sorcery, magical transformations and adventure. In the story of Gulnare a watery sea-theme pervades everything, creating magical underwater kingdoms and raging under-the-sea battles. A rarely-told gem from the Arabian Nights, this is beautifully illustrated storytelling at its very best.

Take a look inside this fantastic new retelling by Kelley Townley with illustrations by Anja Gram.





Take a look inside The Merchant and the Jinni

Merchant Jinni_front cover

A merchant named Massoud encounters a terrifying beast, a genie with magical powers who accuses Massoud of having committed a terrible crime. Poor Massoud is to be severely punished, but first the genie agrees to listen to tales told by a farmer, a man and a woman who all just happen to be passing by. Will Massoud escape the awful genie in the end?

You can read of the opening chapter of The Merchant & the Jinni right here.

Take a look inside The Enchanted Horse


Today is the great festival of New Year. A gigantic statue of a horse is brought to the palace of the sultan, a gift for His Majesty. Intrigued, the young prince seizes the reins. But this is no ordinary horse and little does Prince Firouz realise the magical journeys that lie in store for him. Set amidst a dazzling backdrop of mountain kingdoms, winter gardens and exquisite palaces, The Enchanted Horse offers young readers all the wonderment of an Arabian Nights world in rich, sumptuous detail.

Take a look inside this beautiful modern edition of an Arabian Nights classic, retold by Kelley Townley and illustrated by Anja Gram.

Take a look inside Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves

Ali Baba_Cover

Ali Baba is a simple woodcutter who lives in the forest with his wife. One day as he is collecting wood in the forest he overhears the password to a cave where thieves have hidden their treasure. For the simple woodcutter it’s a dream come true. Or is it? The thieves soon find out that someone else knows about the cave. And they go looking for the culprit!

Take a look inside our new, modern edition of this all-time classic tale.

Take a look inside The Talking Bird, the Singing Tree and the Golden Water


Bahman, Perviz and Parizade are three siblings who spend much of their happy childhood climbing trees, building forts and shooting bows and arrows. One day a travelling dervish visits their humble cottage in the woods and talks about a mysterious bird kept prisoner by an evil sorcerer. The children set off to rescue the bird, but they must first get past the menacing danger that lurks along the steep rocky path to the bird’s hideaway. Only then does the truth about a certain mystery finally emerge … one that has haunted the sultan and his wife for nearly two decades.

The Talking Bird, the Singing Tree & the Golden Water is an Arabian Nights classic that has been beautifully retold by Kelley Townley and illustrated by Anja Gram as part of the new Arabian Nights Adventures series.

Have a look inside this beautiful book.

Take a look inside The Seven Voyages of Sinbad the Sailor



The Seven Voyages of Sinbad the Sailor is one of the great adventure stories of all time. Sinbad sets sail from Baghdad with a ship full of fine goods to trade and seek his fortune in the world. Seven voyages and seven thrilling tales of monsters and strange creatures, grave peril and spectacular deeds, shipwreck and survival.

Have a look inside this wonderful new edition which has been masterfully retold by Kelley Townley and illustrated by Anja Gram.


Read the opening chapter of The Merchant and the Jinni

Merchant Jinni_front cover

We are delighted to be publishing the 8th book in the fantastic Arabian Nights Adventures series by Kelley Townley and Anja Gram.

Arabian Nights Adventures is an exciting new collection of chapter books that are proving to be extremely popular with our young readers.

The Merchant and the Jinni will soon be available on Amazon. In the meantime take a look inside and have a read of the opening chapter right here.

Browse this section …

Take a look inside our books, find fun activities & meet some of our mischievous characters

New books, reviews and activities are being published all the time so keep visiting our website for information on new releases, giveaways and a first look at what’s coming up next.

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The Enchanted Horse



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A statue of a horse is gifted to the sultan on the great festival of New Year. But this horse has special powers and when the young Prince Firouz seizes the reigns he is immediately transported to a strange but wonderful new place. There he meets the clever and bold Princess Lihwa and the two become great friends. But soon their happiness is destroyed and Firouz has to embark upon a most dangerous quest before things are put right again. The story of The Enchanted Horse is set amidst a dazzling backdrop of mountain kingdoms, winter gardens and exquisite palaces, promising young readers all the wonderment of an Arabian Nights world in rich, sumptuous detail.

The Seven Voyages of Sinbad the Sailor



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Sinbad is a sailor from Baghdad. Having squandered all his money as a youth he loads a ship full of fine goods and sets sail, hoping to trade and seek his fortune in the world. This book tells the story of the seven voyages of Sinbad the sailor – seven incredible tales full of monsters, sea creatures, dangerous escapades, spectacular deeds, enchantment and unimaginable riches.

The Curious Island Sinbad and his crew find themselves in uncharted waters, but soon they spot an island and they can’t believe their luck – an oasis full of palm trees and (hopefully) some fresh water too. Eagerly they step ashore and begin to explore. But things aren’t what they seem and this curious place appears to rumble beneath their very feet. What’s going on?

The Enchanted River Hopelessly lost and drifting in the open water for days on end, Sinbad and his crew spot a peaked island that might once have been a volcano. But one of the crew becomes deathly pale. He’s been to this enchanted place before and barely escaped with his life! A strange, rapid current starts dragging the ship towards one of the island’s rocky coves, and before long Sinbad and his crew find themselves shipwrecked and washed ashore. But Sinbad is determined to find out the secret of the unnatural current that got them into this mess.

The Old Man of the Sea Sinbad encounters a bedraggled old man in a desperate situation and helps him out of his predicament, but the old man is not at all what he seems.

The Valley of Gems With the help of the rocs – those huge, magical birds that can carry an elephant in their claws – Sinbad finds himself in a most spectacular place full of unimaginable riches. But the valley is surrounded by huge rocks rising up on all sides, and there is no way Sinbad can climb out let alone take any of the precious treasure with him. What happens next?

An Exchange of Gifts On one of his voyages Sinbad meets the beautiful Avanthi and they exchange gifts before Sinbad sets off on his long journey back home to Baghdad. Will Sinbad and Avanthi ever meet again?

Ali Baba & the Forty Thieves



Have you ever heard the story of Ali Baba?

Ali Baba is a simple woodcutter who lives in the forest with his wife. One day as he is collecting wood in the forest he overhears the password to a cave where thieves have hidden their treasure. For the simple woodcutter it’s a dream come true. Or is it? The thieves soon find out that someone else knows about the cave. And they go looking for the culprit!

Take a look at some of the delightful illustrations inside this fabulous new edition:

Ali Baba hides in a nearby tree as the forty thieves approach the secret cave.
Ali Baba discovers the secret of the cave and finds the treasure.
Kassem is Ali Baba’s brother. One day his greedy wife confronts her husband. How can a simple woodcutter like Ali Baba have so much gold that he needs to weigh it?


Morgiana, who is Ali Baba’s wife, goes to see Mustapha the old cobbler about a grisly task.

‘Merfolk’ or sea people

Storytellers have often delighted us with tales of people who live under the sea. The very first story came from nearly three thousand years ago when the goddess Atargatis took to the sea as punishment for killing her friend. Sometimes we are told these mythical creatures have fish tails instead of legs, and other times they have legs just like us. There are even stories where they have fishy tails in water that turn into legs on dry land. We now have a whole library of different versions of worlds beneath the waves to choose from. It’s like a wonderful, mystical, alien world that is right on our doorstep.

One tale from the Arabian Nights that takes place both in and out the sea is the story Gulnare of the Sea.

Can you write a story that takes place under the sea?

Who was Antoine Galland?

Antoine Galland is famous for being the first person to translate the Arabian Nights stories into a European language. He translated them into French.


Here are some facts about Antoine Galland…

  • Born in the north of France in 1646
  • He was the seventh child of a poor family
  • He studied Hebrew, Latin and Greek and learned Arabic, Persian and Turkish
  • He travelled in Syria and the Levant and accompanied the French ambassador to Constantinople – modern day Istanbul in Turkey – between 1670 and 1675
  • He kept a journal of his travels
  • He also translated the Koran and wrote widely on Islamic culture and the Middle East
  • He died in Paris in 1715

Now here are some fun activities for kids…

  • Antoine Galland learnt to speak several languages during his life. Do you know any words or phrases from different languages? Can you say or write any of them down?
  • Which language would you love to learn? How would you go about learning it?
  • Antoine Galland died in 1715. During his life he travelled to many different countries and kept a journal of his travels. What kinds of things do you imagine he kept in his journal?
  • Imagine you are on a trip to somewhere entirely new. Make your very own journal in which you record some of the exciting things you have seen, discovered, experienced, felt and learnt. To make it really interesting, use as many different methods of recording in your journal as possible – photos, stories, letters to friends and family, drawings, and so on.

Where did the Arabian Nights stories come from?

There is no single author who wrote all the Arabian Nights tales, nor do they all come from the same place.

The Arabian Nights are a collection of stories that have been told and retold by generations of nomadic peoples, by sailors and merchants and by parents to their children. Ancient storytellers would adapt and embellish their stories to please different listeners and new tales would be added along the way. Collected and translated throughout the centuries by different authors, the Arabian Nights tales trace their roots back to the ancient and medieval literature of Arabia, Persia, India, Egypt and Mesopotamia.

The Islamic Golden Age, said to have started around 786 – 809, was a period of great scientific and cultural flourishing. Many great libraries, mosques, schools and hospitals were founded in Baghdad and scholars came from far and wide to share their knowledge and ideas. Many classic books of antiquity – from the Greek, Roman, Persian, Chinese, Indian, Egyptian and Phoenician civilizations – that might otherwise have been lost were translated into Arabic and Persian and preserved in a library known as the House of Wisdom. A Persian collection of the Arabian Nights tales was translated into Arabic around 850, probably in Baghdad at the House of Wisdom. From these languages these books were later translated into Latin, Hebrew and Turkish and eventually into European languages.

The Arabian Nights tales were first translated into a European language (French) by Antoine Galland between 1704 and 1717.  Also known as The Thousand and One Nights, these editions became the primary source for many subsequent translations into English. This is how the stories, thoughts and ideas in these ancient tales and books were preserved and handed down to us.

The Islamic Golden Age continued until its decline which began with the crusades of the eleventh and twelfth centuries and continued with the Mongol invasions of the thirteenth century and finally culminated in 1258 with the siege of Baghdad and the destruction of that city’s great mosques, palaces and libraries.

Fact or Fiction?

It is believed that the story Aladdin and his Wonderful Lamp never existed in any of the early collections of Arabian Nights stories in Arabic, but was actually added to the collection by its French translator Antoine Galland. In a diary entry dated 25th March 1709, Galland claims that he heard the tale from a Syrian storyteller from Aleppo who he met in Paris!

LOOK OUT FOR Arabian Nights Adventures, a collection of thirteen contemporary editions of these these all-time classic tales published by Harpendore. Beautifully retold by Kelley Townley they include wonderful illustrations by Anja Gram. Though designed for children aged 7+ years, they are much adored by older children and adults too!



The ‘talisman’ keeps cropping up in Arabian Nights stories!

Prince Camar_The evil bird
In The Adventures of Prince Camar and Princess Badoura, there is an evil bird who steals a good luck talisman that was given to Princess Badoura by her mother. This causes all manner of mishaps and woes until the talisman is found once again.

A talisman is an object which is meant to bring you luck or protection. It can be made of anything but it must be magically charged – maybe by a spell or a chant or prayer – to give it its power. It will often be carved with pictures or symbols that act as clues as to what it is for. Princess Badoura’s mother gave her a lucky talisman as a wedding present, but when she loses it there is no end of trouble until the talisman is found once again.

Imagine you are going on an adventure, perhaps to explore a strange forest or a wilderness full of magical beasts or to visit a newly discovered planet in a special rocket. You are going to need all the good luck you can get and your best friend gives you a lucky charm or a talisman to take with you.

Write a story about your adventure and draw a picture of your talisman. What powers does your talisman have? What pictures or symbols does it have that gives clues about its powers?

One day while you are on your adventure you realise your precious talisman is missing. What happens to you as a result? Do you ever find your talisman again?

Arabian Nights Travel & the Old Silk Road

Arabian Nights stories are full of long journeys and adventure-packed voyages …

… people travelling thousands of miles across land, braving deserts, mountains and seas in search of someone or something, and getting lost in faraway places before eventually finding the way back home.

Prince Camar_The long journey

From Sinbad’s seven voyages to the evil sorcerer in Aladdin who packs his bags and journeys from Africa to China in search of a magic lamp! From Prince Camar who sets out on horseback from Persia to find his mystery princess in China to Princess Badoura who finds herself lost on the Ebony Islands at the mercy of King Armanos and Princess Hayat. Fortunately for Badoura they are kind and look after her very well! The poor shipwrecked Beder is not so lucky when he finds himself washed up on the shores of the City of Enchantments and at the mercy of the evil sorceress Queen Labe. Even the merfolk (sea people) in the story of Gulnare move effortlessly between the watery underworlds of the deep seas and the land of sultans, princes, princesses and ordinary human folk. There’s a lot of magical travel in the Arabian Nights tales, often with the help of a little enchantment or the magical jinn (genies).

What happened here
In the story Gulnare of the Sea, Princess Gia is a sea princess who is flung from under the ocean and onto dry land by powerful ocean currents after her home under the sea is invaded and war breaks out beneath the waves. The sea people in this Arabian Nights story travel as easily on land as under the sea!

But how did people really move about all those thousands of years ago in the Arabian lands of ancient and medieval times?

An ancient trading network known as the Silk Road connected many regions of China, India, Persia and Arabia. It also took in Egypt and the Horn of Africa – the most northeastern part of Africa that juts out into the Arabian Sea – and even reached as far as the Mediterranean.

The Silk Road included many different trading routes and covered a vast territory of about 6,000 kilometres. Merchants, pilgrims, monks, nomads, soldiers, nobles and ordinary city folk travelled and traded along these routes from as early as 114BC until around 1450AD.

Chinese silk was perhaps the most important commodity traded along the Silk Road but there was so much more too – porcelain and lacquerware from China, glass bottles from Egypt, aloes, frankincense and myrrh from Somalia, dates, saffron powder and pistachio nuts from Persia and even gold and silver bullion (ingots)! Perhaps it was aboard one of these very trading caravans that Aladdin’s magic lamp was brought to the underground cave of treasures on the outskirts of Aladdin’s city in Cathay (China)! Some argue that even diseases such as the Black Death, which devastated Europe in the late 1340s, were passed on along these old trading routes.

But let us not forget the exchange of ideas that also took place – everything from folk tales, religious beliefs, philosophies, technologies and other forms of knowledge. As weary travellers rested themselves and entertained each other around campfires at night they may even have told each other these very Arabian Nights tales of sorcery and magic. In this way these stories may also have travelled, from one place to the next, along the old Silk Road.

Looking for excellent contemporary editions of the all-time classic Arabian Nights tales? Check out Arabian Nights Adventures, a collection of thirteen of the best Arabian Nights stories published by Harpendore. Beautifully retold by Kelley Townley they include wonderful illustrations by Anja Gram. Though designed for children aged 7+ years, they are very much loved by older children and adults too!


Arabian Nights People

Many Arabian Nights stories feature royal people such as sultans, kings, emperors or the shah, important people such as viziers and grand viziers, and magical supernatural beings such as jinn or genies.

But how much do you know about them?

Sultan / King / Emperor / Shah

Before we had presidents and prime ministers, leaders chosen by ordinary citizens who vote, we had families who ruled. When the old leader died their eldest child would often rule next. In some countries people use the words king or queen. In other countries different words are used. Sultan is an Arabic word for a powerful ruler of a smaller province. Emperor is often used when the leader rules over a very large territory. Shah is a Persian word that refers to the emperor of the old Persian Empire. But they all mean similar things – the leading member of a ruling family.

Prince Camar_A worried sultan
A very worried Shah Zaman, the sultan who governs over the Islands of the Children of Khaledan and the father of Prince Camar al-Zaman – in The Adventures of Prince Camar and Princess Badoura.

Grand Vizier

No one can rule a kingdom very well on their own – it’s just too big a job! The grand vizier was a trusted and wise person selected to be the second-in-command. Just like many countries today have a prime minister who is in charge of all the other ministers, a sultan would have had a grand vizier who was in charge of all the other viziers at court. The grand vizier was so powerful that only the sultan himself could tell him what to do.

Jinn / Genies

As in stories from many other parts of the world, Arabian stories often contain magical supernatural beings. In the Western world we have fairies, demons and many more, while in the East we often find jinn. Sometimes written in English as genies, jinn can be good or bad, kind or evil. They have many magical powers and are said to be made from the fire of scorching winds, unlike humans who are made of clay. They are generally bigger than humans and can have animal parts such as horns or wings. We say ‘one jinni’ but ‘two jinn’.

Prince Camar_Mainoune visits Prince Camar in the abandoned tower
In The Adventures of Prince Camar and Princess Badoura, Maimoune is a powerful genie who visits Prince Camar while he is imprisoned in the old abandoned tower. Maimoune and her rival Danhasch together create much mischief!


Gulnare of the Sea



Gulnare begins her tale
Gulnare, Rose of the Sea, is the mysterious lady who arrives at the palace of a sultan. She does not speak and spends all day staring at the sea. Eventually she begins her remarkable tale.
The strange bird
This bird has been acting strangely. Perhaps it is not entirely what it seems.
What happened here
Gia, a sea princess, being flung from under the ocean by powerful currents onto the land above the waves. Her home has just been invaded and the kingdoms under the sea are at war.



The Adventures of Prince Camar and Princess Badoura



A prince and princess meet and fall in love, but thanks to the antics of two mischievous genies they soon find themselves separated by thousands of miles. With only the tiniest of clues to guide them they embark on an epic search for each other, travelling vast distances across land and sea. Genies, voyages, secret identities, hidden treasure and more, this is a beautiful tale of love and adventure, a gem from the Arabian Nights.

Prince Camar_A Chinese palace
A magnificent palace in China that is home to Princess Badoura.
Prince Camar_A worried sultan
Shah Zaman is the Sultan who governs over the Islands of the Children of Khaledan. He is the father of Prince Camar.
Prince Camar_Mainoune visits Prince Camar in the abandoned tower
Maimoune is a powerful genie who visits Prince Camar while he is imprisoned in the old abandoned tower.
Prince Camar_Princess Badoura awakes
Princess Badoura awakes and demands to know who was the person she met the night before.
Prince Camar_The evil bird
An evil bird who steals the good luck talisman belonging to Princess Badoura. This causes all manner of mishaps and woes until the talisman is found once again.
Prince Camar_The long journey
Prince Camar and Marzavan journey for many months across deserts and mountains in the hope of finding Princess Badoura.

Aladdin and his Wonderful Lamp



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Aladdin A poor boy who lives in the slums of Cathay with his mother.

The evil sorcerer A magician who travels all the way from Africa to Cathay to find a magic lamp. Whoever has the magic lamp can command the genie and become the most powerful person in the world. But the lamp is buried deep underground in a magnificent cave of treasures.

Genie ‘I am Genie of the Lamp. I repay the keeper of the lamp with wishes as thanks for good care of my lamp. What would thou have of me?’

Princess Buddir The beautiful daughter of the sultan of the ancient kingdom of Cathay whom Aladdin wishes to marry. But Aladdin must first persuade her father that he’s worthy enough.

The Grand Vizier Scheming advisor to the sultan who wishes to marry his own son to the princess Buddir.

Rocs Huge magical birds that can carry an elephant in their claws. They are rare and precious beings who are friends of Genie and helped him come by his lamp.


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