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

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

Friday, May 24, 2013

Screen of Frogs

Screen of Frogs: an Old Tale Retold & Illus. by Sheila Hamanaka, 1993.

This story is adapted from "The Strange Folding Screen." In long ago Japan lives the rich and lazy man, Koji, who would rather sell off most of his land than work. One day, he contemplates selling his last mountain to pay his debts and he is visited by a human-sized frog who pleads with him to keep and preserve the creature's homeland. It urges Koji to think of the bees, birds, foxes and frogs that will have nowhere to go if the land is lost. After this, Koji is a changed man who sells his costly possessions to settle his debts and works and values his land. He is rewarded with a special screen with amphibious charm. Read the story to find out more!

Hamanaka's illustrations combine whimsy and beauty. Her people are round and cheerful and often accompanied by animals, such as soft-faced horses, dogs, a calico cat and what appears to be three monkeys wearing kimonos. She also uses texture and pattern to enhance her art. People wear collage kimonos of strikingly patterned fabric, the frog appears to be dressed in weedy robes, and Koji dabbles his finger in a marbled stream of white, mint green and blues, with variegated cherry blossoms swirling through. Screen of Frogs is an enjoyable retelling and would be appropriate Earth Day reading.

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