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

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

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Belching Hill

Belching Hill  Retold by Morse Hamilton, Illus. by Forest Rogers, 1997.

This retelling is based on "The Old Woman Who Lost Her Dumplings," recorded by (you guessed it) Lafcadio Hearn and "The Old Woman and the Rice Cakes" by Ethel Johnston Phelps. On the famous Belching Hill or Geppuyama live a poor old woman and her pig, Hanako. They are very happy eating rice dumplings, which the old woman loves to cook. One day a hot dumpling rolls away and is grabbed by a giant hand that comes up through the grass. The old woman and Hanako follow it down under the hill and finds a "snarl of ogres", and one of them has gulped down her dumpling! She scolds the ogres, but they give her an ultimatum: cook more dumplings or be their dinner herself. Well, she loves making dumplings, but how will she feed so many ogres? Luckily, they have a magic spoon and fortunately the old woman has a few tricks up her sleeve, enough to get her and Hanako home safely with a little something extra for her trouble.

Rogers' pictures are gently humorous, beginning with the old woman making fish, frog, and pig faces with her animal friends. The brightly colored fuzzy and scaly ogres are appropriately weird and scary, but in a fun way. They may have extra eyes, horns and impressive tongues and talons, but as long as their attention is turned to the dumplings, they are more silly than threatening.Watercolors, gouache and colored pencils were used to make the art, which is also bursting with life: trees, birds, flowers, little animals, etc.

I found this book an overall treat!

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