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

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

Saturday, May 3, 2014

The Magic Tapestry by Demi

The Magic Tapestry: a Chinese Folktale retold and illus. by Demi, 1994.
In this satisfying tale from China's Guangxi Province, an old mother spends years weaving a perfectly beautiful tapestry, but just as she shows it to her three sons, it is stolen away by the fairies. The mother instantly falls ill and begs her oldest son to retrieve it. When the eldest boy finds out he must either endure hardships and danger to find it or can instead have a box of jewels, he takes the easy way out and runs off to the city with his new wealth. The selfish middle child does the same. His poor old mother has now blinded herself through weeping. Fortunately, the heroic youngest brother keeps his promise and faces fire, bitter cold and having to knock his front teeth out and feed them to a stone horse in pursuit of the tapestry. He saves the weaving, helps heal his mother and wins himself a fairy bride in the bargain!
Demi has retold and also illustrated the story, using colorful backgrounds of of pink, purple, blue and gold. As she often does, she uses a perspective that shows a whole scene with small, active figures, such as the family chasing after the tapestry as it is blown away by a mysterious, sudden wind or the eldest brother leaving the guardian spirit and making off with his jewels, crossing over a bridge and heading to the city before him. Two of the most exciting pictures are of the youngest boy as he rides his horse through two pages of leaping red and gold flames and then of curling icy waves. The final illustration shows the happy mother, son and fairy bride, living in the now real, former tapestry. They are surrounded by blossoms and lovely birds and animals.

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