- The Black Tulip by Alev Lytle Croutier
A review by Irem UNAL
I go to A.B. Combs Leadership Elementary School. There we learn
Stephen Covey's 8 habits. At end of this
review I hope to be able to analyze the
character traits of Leyla by using one
of those 8 habits.
This book is about a brave girl called Laleena who leaves her family
behind in Georgia by trading herself in
as a slave to serve for the Ottoman Empire.
Her father was an artist who was sent to war. He would paint icons
and teach Laleena some drawing and painting
skills. Although it was forbidden to imitate
God's creations in Islam, her father believed
that drawing life was a talent. Laleena
also had a talent in planting tulips.
She and her brother Cengiz would go out
to the fields and plant tulips every year.
They would also cross-pollinate bulbs
to experiment with the different colors
they could end up with.
After an adventurous trip to Istanbul, she gets sent to Topkapi
Sarayi. In the Ottoman Empire girls of
the Harem would have their names changed
to a Turkish name. Some girls were named
close to their original names but some
received a whole different names, for
example: a little girl Lena was turned
into Semiramis while Laleena was changed
Leyla is brave in many ways. She is brave enough to leave her family
behind and attend a festival that she
was not invited to. Not only is she brave
to leave her family behind but, she is
brave enough to journey to a whole new
country at age of 13.
Leyla is a very curious person. She will put herself into a life
or death situation just to see a festival.
Her curiosity soars further in plants.
She always is curious to know what colors
she can make with cross-pollination.
She is so talented and smart that she taught princess Fatma and
her human doll Semiramis how to do calligraphy
and draw pictures the way her father taught
her to draw.
Leyla is a considerate young person. One example would be that
when she won the tulip festival with her
black tulip, she was given gold coins
by the Sultan. She also received a beautiful
blue kaftan. Later, when she met with her father, she
gave her kaftan to him to give to her
mother. Instead of keeping the gold coins
she insisted to send them to her family.
Leyla was very, very thoughtful on the ship to Istanbul. She accidentally
stepped on a little girl named Lena who
was just 5 years old. Lena began crying
and Leyla picked her up and cradle her
like a baby. After that day Leyla was
like a temporary mother to Lena.
When Leyla's friend Belkis was moved to another department in the
Harem, Leyla made a drawing of a tulip
and its growing cycles on a piece of paper
as a gift. She did what was forbidden,
just to give her friend a goodbye gift.
She imitated God's creations. As a consequent she went into dungeon. This is evidence that
she is a selfless and generous person.
I would like to conclude that one of the Covey habits that Leyla
applied to her daily life is: "Begin
with the end in mind". She probably
applied other habits as well, but to me
she applied this habit to her life all
the time. For example: she began with
the end in mind when she traded herself
in as a slave, knowing that she would
get a reward so that at the end her family
would benefit from it. She knew the reward
would bring her family wealth. She also
began with the end in mind when she decided
to cross-pollinate tulip bulbs to get
the most beautiful black tulip. This plant
later helped her win the prize from the
I recommend this book to girls 9 to 15 because it gives an example
of how a young girl goes through a great
adventure using her character traits.
This book will influence girls to be more
mature in life and make brave decisions.
Written for the LightMillenium - January 2006