Monday, January 27, 2014
The Luminous Pearl: a Chinese Folktale
The Luminous Pearl: a Chinese Folktale retold by Betty L. Torre, Illus. by Carol Inouye, 1990.
Under the sea, the Dragon King and his advisers attempt to find a husband for his daughter, the intelligent and lovely princess. She knows her own mind and refuses everyone that they suggest, waiting instead for a man who is honest and brave. Admiral C. Horse knows of such a fellow,Wa Jing, so they devise a test for the young man to prove himself worthy. He dreams of a beautiful maiden, but shares this with his older brother, and soon both are in a contest to win the heart of the sea girl. She will marry the brother who can bring her a magical pearl that shines by night. Each brother sets off to find the treasure, but along the way they both promise to help the people of a flooded village. Eventually, each must make a choice: bring back a pearl for the Dragon King's daughter or honor his promise to the villagers. So, the brothers are tested. Which one will become the bridegroom of the fair princess?
Carol Inouye's artwork is a fine accompaniment to the story of The Luminous Pearl. Readers will enjoy the weird and whimsical pictures of the dragon-headed king and his sea creature/humanoid advisers that resemble a crab, tortoise, octopus, etc. People who like pretty princesses will not be disappointed in the beauteous sea maiden. The colors and details of the underwater kingdom should please everyone, with waving plants, lacquered screens and curious fish.