Thursday, March 7, 2013
The Five Sparrows: a Japanese Folktale
The Five Sparrows: a Japanese Folktale Adapted & Illus. by Patricia Montgomery Newton, 1982.
This is another tale similar in theme to The Old Man Who Made the Trees Bloom (See that post Here ) that contrasts good and evil people's behavior, where kindness is rewarded and wicked deeds are punished. A group of bad children are throwing stones at birds, and break a poor sparrow's back. Fortunately, a compassionate old woman rescues the bird and nurses it back to health, in spite of the jeers of her family. When the sparrow can fly again it brings her a magic seed which will provide bountiful gifts.
Her envious neighbors feel that they too should be rich, and the mother of that house starts looking for injured birds. She becomes impatient however, and hurries the process along harming not one but four sparrows. She too eventually receives seeds from the birds that she nurses, but they only bring illness, enraged neighbors and clouds of nasty flies.
Newton's art is done in grey scale, turquoise and orange on white. It is done in a traditional style, so the rock-throwing children look like adults to me. My favorite pictures are of the sparrows, looking sweet and downy-headed.