Tanuki's Gift: a Japanese Tale by Tim Myers, Illus. by R.G. Roth, 2003.
Here is another tale retold by Tim Myer (See Basho and the Fox ) about another tanuki ( See my other Tanuki post). It is set in old time Japan and according to Myer, is a variation of a "ongaeshi" or "debt of gratitude" story. A humble and devout priest takes in a tanuki (raccoon -dog) on a snowy night. The two becomes best friends, and every night during the winter season, for ten years, the tanuki visits the holy man. Eventually, the priest's small friend asks if there is a way to repay him for all of his kindness. The priest shares a wish with the tanuki ,and upon its fulfillment, he learns something very important. This is a sweet and touching tale, moving without being sappy.
R.G. Roth's art is intentionally naive and joyful. The tanuki especially looks like it was drawn by a child. I really love the picture of the broadly smiling and exuberant priest enjoying his tanuki friend's juggling and another of the holy man, looking thrilled, floating off to paradise while wearing a halo, and holding on to a parasol. The illustrations are done in gouche, watercolor, oil pastel and ink.
Readers will enjoy this lovely, gentle book. Share it with your own friends!