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

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

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Japanese Children's Favorite Stories

Japanese Children's Favorite Stories Edited by Florence Sakade, Illus. by Yoshisuke Kurosaki, 1958.

This collection has twenty stories chosen in 1953 from Silver Bells magazine, an English language version of a popular Japanese children's magazine. There are familiar stories such as "Peach Boy", "The Old Man Who Made the Trees Blossom", and "The Grateful Statues" as well as tales I've been totally unacquainted with, like "The Toothpick Warriors" "The Bobtail Monkey" and "The Rabbit in the Moon."
 My favorite tale in the book is called "The Magic Teakettle." In fact, my next post will be of some picture book versions of the story. The story goes that an old priest buys a secondhand iron tea kettle and when he puts it over the fire to heat it up for tea, it suddenly grows the head, feet and tail of a badger and tries to run away. The priest's pupils chase it, and it becomes an ordinary kettle again. As this is unsuitable for a kettle, they sell it to a junkman, who soon learns that the badger-kettle is a Bumbuku, who can bring good luck if treated kindly.
Some other interesting stories in the collection are "The Long-Nosed Goblins," in which blue and red goblins find new uses for their smellers and learn a lesson about literally putting their noses in other people's business and "Why the Jellyfish Has No Bones," an odd tale about enemies octopus and jellyfish, and the Dragon's King's  daughter, who is ill and needs unusual medicine for her recovery.

Each story is illustrated by several small greyscale drawings, and a full page color picture, such as the cover illustration of "Little One-Inch".  I love the cheerful vintage feel of the pictures. Many of the characters are rounded and smiling. The badger-kettle looks like he's having a ball as he walks the tightrope in view of a crowd of awed, happy faces and  I like this picture even more than the picture book versions of the story!

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