Memories of her Persian childhood are the author's inspiration for this picture book tale set in old Tehran. With echoes of Cinderella and Grimm's Mother Holle, the story contrasts the behaviour and character of two half-sisters, Shiraz and Monir. When Shiraz drops a ball of wool from her balcony, it takes courage to ask permission to retrieve it from an adjoining garden, owned by a strange old woman who requires the girl to complete certain tasks before granting access. Shiraz interpretes these odd demands according to her kind nature and intuition of what the old lady really wants and receives an unlooked for reward, an outward beauty to match her inner self. But when her half-sister, Monir determines to achieve an identical result, the outcome is radically different, reflecting her spoilt and greedy nature. The illustrations in the style of painters like Matisse set the action of the story against a backdrop of vibrant colour evoking the old city's exotic jumble of houses and secret gardens to great effect.