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

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

Thursday, December 26, 2013

The Magic Horse of Han Gan

The Magic Horse of Han Gan by Chen Jiang Hong, Trans. by Claudia Zoe Bedrick, 2006.

Young Han Gan loves to draw, but doesn't get much opportunity because he is from a poor family. One day, he delivers a meal to the painter Wang Wei and stops to sketch some horses in the sand. Impressed, the artist provides Han Gan with supplies and thereby launches his artistic career. The young man continues to paint horses, always showing them tethered because they are so lifelike that he fears they may run away. Like The Boy Who Drew Cats, Han Gan has a very special talent. Eventually, a great warrior comes to him, asking that he create a steed beyond any other, one the man can take into battle. Han Gan is willing to try, and makes a magical horse with no need for physical nourishment or sleep. The horse is wonderful indeed, but can such a special creature be made for a life of combat?

Although Han Gan's horse is a legend, the masterful painter lived 1,200 years ago in China. He painted his horses on silk, and an example of his work is included in the back of the book. Chiang Jiang Hong has illustrated the story using the same technique as Han Gan, painting directly on silk. Also as the fabled artist, Hong's horses look as though they might gallop off the page.

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