Thursday, August 23, 2012

Shelf Life [kids]

The Water Dragon: A Chinese Legend by Li Jian 42 pages.
@ SPL: J 398.20951 Li

In a small Chinese village, Ah Bao, a young boy, finds a magical red stone which provides unlimited rice and money.

He shares this bounty willingly with his family and neighbours.

After a time, however, it becomes evident that the red stone has brought something else – a drought.

It hasn’t rained since the stone was found. What can the villagers do? One night Ah Bao dreams of a water dragon raining on the land.

He decides to set off on a long and dangerous quest to find the dragon, for the crops are withering and the rivers are drying up. Rain is desperately needed to save the village.

Encountering a giant snake, a carp, a deer and an eagle on his travels, Ah Bao is able to be of some help to each creature, and is rewarded with something from each. The eagle gives him a claw; the fish gives him some of its scales, and so on.

Each warns him that he will meet a greedy red monster.

When the young boy meets the fearsome red monster, he narrowly escapes from it by jumping off a high cliff into a deep pool of water.

The ending of Ah Bao’s story is quite unexpected, but happy.

The water dragon brings rain to the thirsty land, turning the crops green and filling the waterways once more.

Originally published in China, the beautifully-illustrated legend of the Water Dragon is told in both Chinese and English.

Featuring a young protagonist who is both generous and brave, this story presents a worthy hero-role model for children.

With 2012 being the Year of the Water Dragon in Chinese and Tibetan astrology, this book would be a fine choice of story to read aloud to a child by a parent, grandparent or teacher.

** Recommended for ages four to nine years.

Ella May and the Wishing Stone by Cary Fagan 32 pages.
@ SPL: JP Fagan

In Cary Fagan’s Ella May and the Wishing Stone, some“magical” results are also brought about by a special stone.

When Ella May visits the beach and finds a stone that is completely encircled with a dark stripe, she decides that such an unusual stone must have magical powers of some sort such as granting wishes.

Unfortunately, Ella May also decides that such a stone is too valuable to share with anyone, including her friends – who are understandably upset and hurt.

They go off to play together, creating their own magic stones.

Ella May is left by herself. It doesn’t take Ella May long to feel lonely and miss her friends.

Remembering the wishes that they had wanted to make with her stone, Ella May uses her imagination – instead of her stone – to make those wishes come true for them and win her friends back.

Sharing with friends (or siblings) is one of the most difficult lessons for young children to learn and put into practice.

A sensitive, engaging story such as Ella May and the Wishing Stone could perhaps help.
The simple but expressive watercolour illustrations by Genevieve Cote, a winner of the Canadian Governor General’s Award for Illustration, are wonderful enhancements to this wise yet entertaining story.

** Recommended for ages four to seven years.

These reviews appeared in The Stratford Gazette on August 23rd, 2012. Written by Sally Hengeveld, Librarian

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