It might be cold outside, but it’s warm and inviting on the sofa with a good book! Our afternoon read-aloud of choice this week has been Asian Children’s Favorite Stories as retold by David Conger, Liana Romulo, Joan Suyenaga and Marian Davies Toth.
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Tuttle Publishing kindly sent the children a copy of Asian Children’s Favorite Stories: Folktales From China, Japan, Korea, India, The Phillippines and Other Asian Lands to read and review.
Within this book there are seven stories over 65 pages from 6 Asian countries. Some of these stories are new to us, but a couple we were already familiar with in other versions. These are short tales; each story is about six pages long.
The Asian Stories Included
- Why Cats and Dogs Don’t Get Along (Korea)
- Baka the Cow and Kalabaw the Water Buffalo (Philippines)
- How the Mousedeer Became a Judge (Indonesia)
- Liang and His Magic Brush (China)
- The Lucky Farmer Becomes King (Thailand)
- The Clever Rabbit and Numskull (India)
- The Crane’s Gratitude (Japan)
There is also a glossary at the back of the book, which is just one of the things I like about Tuttle books.
These are folktales so of course they are popular, but it’s also very interesting to see the different illustrations and little different versions and variations of the stories. Everybody has a version of a story and may embellish one area of it over another. It’s a bit like how rumours can start with details changing over time and with each telling. This can be an interesting discussion to have with your children.
There are such beautiful illustrations in this book; some full pages of colour and others are partial pages worked around the text. I like looking at the facial expressions of the characters; the eyes and the mouth, and how you can tell, simply by looking at them whether a character human or otherwise is being are feeling mischievous or sneaky angry or very pleased.
Facial expressions are very important and sometimes over exaggerated within Japanese culture, if you are watching TV, for example. Sometimes this can carry over into the illustrations and make some more interesting, than some of the Western style illustrations.
My favourite story is The Crane’s Gratitude, where a crane that an old man saves from death pays them back, but when he and his wife break a promise and discover the truth, they are once again poor, but not in their hearts.
Just when you’re thinking that Tristan might be getting a little too old for some of these children’s books, you realise it’s not true at all. Whenever I was reading to Kallista he would come over to listen, cuddle up, and see the illustrations.
Kallista had some fun with Liang and His Magic Brush when I brought out a mini version of a magic brush calligraphy set. I don’t think she expected her images to spring to life, but I wonder what she was thinking about? This story’s moral is about having a kind heart and what can happen when you are greedy.
Folktales always leave you with a talking point for discussion late, such as
- Why did the characters behave in the manner they did?
- Would it be appropriate today?
- What might be a similar situation that your children may find themselves in?
- How would they react?
It’s nice to have a collection of folktales from different countries in one book that are so well blend together, such as these.
These are short reads so they are good for after lunch while the dishes soak, at bedtime, or while the children are practicing their handwriting. I can give them something else to think about other than just being bored with crossing your T’s and forming an uppercase G.
We have had this now for a while; several months to tell the truth, and we have come back to it over again. With the cover having a winter theme, it is that we will have out again next winter. Of course, winter is always a great time to read books and imagine yourself and other lands and situations.