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

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

Thursday, February 14, 2013

The Old Man Who Made the Trees Bloom

The Old Man Who Made the Trees Bloom by Hanasaka Jiji, retold by Tamizo Shibano,
 Illus. by Bunshu Iguchi, 1985. Part of Heian's Japanese Fairy Tale Series.

In this fable, a loving and kind old couple and their good dog, Shiro, live next door to a greedy and selfish old couple. When Shiro brings his human family good fortune, the evil neighbor takes advantage of our hero's generosity and borrows Shiro, hoping for similar wealth. Unfortunately, he is unsuccessful and gains no treasure, but instead does a wicked thing. Thereafter, each time the kind old man prospers through the magical love of Shiro, the horrible man imitates him, but fails. Miracles occur for the loving couple, but the greedy, deceitful man is punished and imprisoned by the emperor. An Afterword by Professor Keigo Seki explains the traditional aspects of the tale, including good triumphing over evil, and Japanese attitudes about the dead and rebirth.

The art is emotionally resonant. Anyone who's ever loved a dog can appreciate the picture of the old man with Shiro sitting before him, paws and muzzle in his lap.

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