"A library book, I imagine, is a happy book." Cornelia Funke

"Everything puts me in mind of a story." Ben Franklin

Friday, February 22, 2013

The Boy From The Dragon Palace

The Boy From The Dragon Palace: a Folktale from Japan Retold by Margaret Read MacDonald, Illus. by Sachiko Yoshikawa. 2011.

This Japanese folktale is another variation of "The Fisherman and His Wife," a German story attributed to the Grimms (See a Ukrainian variation in my post about Luba and the Wren ). In all, a kind deed is rewarded with a series of wishes, but greed causes the overly ambitious to end up back where they began.

In MacDonald's story, a poor flower seller gifts the Dragon King under the sea with all of his unsold flowers. He receives a dirty, snotty nosed little boy as a thank you. He must feed the child shrimp with vinegar and sugar every day and will then have good luck.

The flower seller is thrilled to find out that after he feeds the little boy, when the kid blows his nose, magical things happen. The flower man can have gold, a palace, anything he wants. However, once he is content, he doesn't want to care for the child anymore. So, he turns the snotty little guy out...

This will make a popular read aloud for kids because of the funny, gross delivery of  wishes and the satisfaction of seeing someone get what's coming to him.

Yoshikawa's colorful watercolor collages are the perfect accompaniment to the story. Kids should really enjoy the grubby little boy, wiping his nose on one sleeve and then the other before blowing his nose in the air and slurping his shrimp. Everyone will like fun illustrations such as the flower seller falling back joyfully on his treasure with his white stocking feet kicking about, and the Dragon King (yes, a dragon dressed in a kimono) and company (beautiful lady, unmannerly little boy) overseeing his watery kingdom.

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