In honor of April Fool's Day, let's trick a trickster!
The Badger and the Magic Fan adapted by Tony Johnston, Illus. by Tomie dePaola, 1990.
This amusing story comes from Tony Johnson, writer of more than 100 children's books. One day, three long-nosed tengu (goblin) children are playing with a magic fan, making their noses grow and shrink, when they are observed by a crafty badger. He really wants that magic for himself, so he turns into a little girl and bribes the tengu kids with some bean-jam buns. There are four buns and three tengu children, so the badger tricks them into shutting their eyes and holding their breath, and the one who can do this the longest will win the extra treat. Then he makes off with the special fan!
Badger finds a rich and beautiful girl and fans her, making her nose grow unacceptably long. Then the naughty creature sits back and waits as her father tries to find a solution, consulting Japan's best doctors, thinkers and a witch before he gives up and declares that he will give his daughter and half of his riches to the one who can restore her button nose. Perhaps the badger can do it, and enjoy a life of luxury and a lovely new wife. However, three tengu children are after him with mischief on their minds...
This light and funny story is great to read to a group. We recently had an origami program and I shared it with a bunch of 9 to 12 year olds. They listened and I noticed that they all looked up from what they were doing to see the pictures. We all enjoyed it!
Well known and greatly loved illustrator Tomie dePaola did the pictures for The Badger and the Magic Fan, and they fit the story particularly well. His Tengu children are cute as buttons, with their matching brush-like hair, plaid kimonos, and expressions of mischief. The contrast between the undisturbed beautiful maiden with her serene countenance and her shocked look as her noses grows is comical. Readers will also giggle over dePaloa's serious faced doctors and formerly intimidating witch being pelted with cabbages and pepper by the maiden's irate father.
For those that may wonder, Tony is a she:
and Tomie is a he:
- Alice Nizzy Nazzy, the Witch of Santa Fe
- Four Scary Stories
- The Quilt Story
- The Tale of Rabbit and Coyote
- The Vanishing Pumpkin