Wednesday, July 3, 2013
A Tale of Two Tengu
A Tale of Two Tengu retold by Karen Kawamoto McCoy, Illus. by Koen Fossey, 1993.
This story has been briefly described in my post about the book Japanese Children's Favorite Stories in a tale called "The Long-Nosed Goblins." Two tengu, Japanese goblins with impressive growing and shrinking noses, constantly fight together over whose schnoz is the best. Kenji, the blue goblin, smells something good and sends his nose out in search of it. Little princesses having a party mistake the nose for a pole and decorate it with kimonos. Kenji hauls in this treasure and makes his cohort Joji, the red goblin, very jealous. So, Joji sends out his nose to see what he can find. Unfortunately, he locates some young princes playing together, who think that his nose makes a great toy to hit, jump and swing on. All Joji gets is a sore smeller. Then the tengu decide to send their snouts out together the next day and see who gets the best prize. Sadly, their noses visit the same family who they bothered the day before. All does not go well, but it ends the rivalry over the noses and makes the tengu better friends!
Fossey's created a light-hearted world that goes well with the silly story. His tengu are cute little bearded men with long hair and pointy caps, who look not unlike our American idea of fairy tale dwarfs. They live in a cheerful land of blue sky, green grass and flowers. The pictures often contain whimsical little animals, such as birds eager to land on a nose pole, a Siamese cat watching cautiously as one pole lengthens, monkeys capering as a nose snakes by and more. Even the fierce looking guards that are sent in to punish the tengus' beaks end up tumbling like fools. Read this book to the kids in your life for fresh and frothy fun.