Thursday, May 2, 2013
The Boy of the Three Year Nap
The Boy of the Three Year Nap by Diane Snyder, Illus. by Allen Say, 1988.
A poor widow lives on the banks of the Nagara river with her lazy son, Taro. She works hard to support them, because unfortunately, although Taro is healthy and smart, he most likes to sleep. When a rich merchant and his family, including a lovely daughter, move into the neighborhood, Taro's mother wants him to work for the new neighbor. However, Taro has a secret plan that involves priest's robes, dark makeup, and Ugigami, the town's patron god. Could he win the rich man's daughter and a cushy life for himself? This good-natured traditional Japanese tale of a trickster tricked will please readers of all ages.
This is another work illustrated by Allen Say (see my previous post about Under the Cherry Blossom Tree), this time a Caldecott Honor Book. The book's title page shows a full moon over rooftops, and behind one window shade we can see our anti-hero yawning widely. He is doing this same thing on the cover. Readers have no doubt that his nickname is suitable. All the characters are expressive, from the bucktoothed merchant during his disturbing encounter with "Ugigami", to Taro's displeased new mother-in-law to the widow, who easily moves from irritated to shocked to smug.