Feb 23, 2010

Traditional Literature Reviews

Young, Ed. Lon Po Po: A Red-Riding Hood Story From China. 1989. Turtleback Books. ISBN 0613003950

Three children left at home alone are visited by a hungry wolf disguised as their grandmother.

Critical Analysis:
Young beautifully retells and illustrates this version of Little Red Riding Hood. Three young sisters unwisely open the door for a stranger after their mother takes a journey to visit their grandmother. The stranger is a hungry wolf (lon) disguised as their grandmother (po po). After the sisters notice the wolf’s low voice and tail, the oldest devises a plan to get rid of the wolf to keep them alive. This clever, older sister lures the wolf outside after promising to fill his belly with gingko nuts located at the top of a tree. All three sisters ban together and convince the wolf to ride up in a basket. Greed gets the best of the wolf and he foolishly trusts the sisters to help fill his belly. In line with the classic tale, the girls outwit the wolf. Illustrations are presented in panels of two or three much like traditional Chinese paintings. Pictures take up the entire page and are, at times, soft and muted. Young's beautiful watercolor paintings with long strokes and deep shadows give the story an eerie feel and the wolf his sinister stare.

Caldecott Medal, 1990
Boston Globe–Horn Book Award (Picture Book, 1990)
A Horn Book Fanfare Best Book, 1990
1001 Children's Books You Must Read Before You Grow Up (2009, Ages 5↑)

The juxtaposition of abstract and realistic representations, the complicated play of color and shadow, and the depth of the artist's vision all help transform this simple fairy tale into an extraordinary and powerful book. Publisher’s Weekly, 1989

“The shadows and cautious, frightened faces coupled with the narrator’s expressive storytelling will leave viewers on the edge of their seats…. Students will enjoy comparing this version to the classic fairy tale they know so well.” School Library Journal, 1989

“...flawlessly produced... creatively directed… captivates its (audience) through the active and beautifully illustrated tale of the children's swift intelligence, bravery, and trust… very highly recommended.” Children’s Bookwatch, 1989

Louie, Ai-Ling. Yeh Shen A Cinderella Story from China: A Cinderella Story from China. 1996. Penguin Group. ISBN 0698113888

Daly, Niki. Pretty Salma: A Little Red Riding Hood Story from Africa. 2007. Clarion Books. ISBN 0618723455

Variant or Version of Cinderella
San Souci, Robert D. Cinderella Skeleton. 2000. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Illustrated by Catrow, David. ISBN 0152020039

A classic story everyone knows. A sweet girl in ratted clothes, three stepsisters with an evil stare, and a wicked step-mother who keeps her locked in the lair. However, this tale has a different spin because these characters have no skin! Cinderella Skeleton is her name, but will Prince Charnel find her to claim?

Critical Analysis:
The classic story of Cinderella has gotten a ghoulish makeover in San Souci’s Cinderella Skeleton. Children and adults alike will recognize the similarities (the evil stepmother and stepsisters), but the differences are what set this tale apart from the others. This version of Cinderella has overwhelming, large eyes, sparse, red hair, and long, twig-like bones. She is not an ordinary girl, but a skeleton, and the Halloween Ball is the place where Prince Charnel will be. With the help from the Good Witch, Cinderella makes it to the Ball and has her dance. Like the story goes, midnight arrives and Cinderella tries to flee. Before she makes her escape, she not only leaves her shoe behind, but also her entire foot! Armed with her foot and shoe, it is up to Prince Charnel to find his true love. The bright pastel colors and airy setting help ease the sometimes complex rhyming and challenging words. This is a perfect read aloud for younger children and good edition to any library or classroom.

Children's Choices, 2001
Kirkus Book Review Stars, 2000

This darkly humorous and spooky variation will tickle the twisted tastes of upper-elementary and middle-school readers if it is displayed where they'll find it. School Library Journal, 2000

The backgrounds are eerie and elaborately detailed, and the figures are not really skeletons, but rather elongated stick figures with mummified heads and moldering, garishly colored finery. In the end, Cinderella Skeleton hobbles out of hiding to be united with her Prince, and off they float, trailing clouds of--something. Share this macabre rib tickler with Stinky Cheese fans. Booklist,

"No glass slipper appears in this often funny graveyard romance," Publisher’s Weekly, 2000.

Compare and contrast a different Cinderella variation with Cinderella Skeleton.

Lowell, Susan. Cindy Ellen: A Wild Western Cinderella. 2001. Harper Collins. ISBN 0064438643

Folk Literature Collection
Simonds, Nina; Swartz, Leslie; The Children’s Museum Boston. 2002. Moonbeams, Dumplings & Dragon Boats: A Treasury of Chinese Holiday Tales, Activities & Recipes. Illustrated by So, Meilo. Harcourt Children's Books. ISBN 0152019839

Five, traditional Chinese festivals are introduced. Accompanied with recipes, games and activities that highlight each event. From the Story of the Kitchen God to homemade dumplings and spring rolls, this compilation has just a little bit of something for anyone of any age.

Critical Analysis:
Moonbeams, Dumplings & Dragon Boats is a perfect introduction to Chinese culture, or a reminder of the rich and traditional heritage. Things that can be associated with the Chinese culture; Chinese lanterns and kites, dumplings and spring rolls, and of course the Chinese Zodiac, are presented in a simple fashion. The Chinese Zodiac links twelve animals to a cycle of twelve years and can sometimes be a little overwhelming for a person unfamiliar. Moonbeams, Dumplings & Dragon Boats easily explains how the zodiac works, and also a popular story explaining how the animals came to be associated with the zodiac. A child will be able to locate their birth year and the animal coupled with it. How-to’s of kite making, bamboo crackers, and shadow puppets will keep a child, and parent alike, busy for hours. Moonbeams, Dumplings & Dragon Boats is a beautifully illustrated book with watercolors in the most vibrant of colors. Illustrations appear wispy, child-like, and unfinished around the edges. These simple pictures coincide with the young person who will find this book educational, fun, and inspiring. A two-page ,resource section and a guide to Chinese pronunciation will allow opportunities for parent and child to explore Chinese culture and traditions further.

Parent's Choice Award (Fall 2002)
Chapman Award for Best Classroom Read-Alouds.
Book Sense National Best Seller List (Children's Illustrated category) for sales week ended February 2, 2003

Moonbeams is a useful, visually appealing addition to any holiday collection.” School Library Journal, 2002.

“Step-by-step illustrations aid in food preparation or crafts such as New Year Prints or Good Luck Characters in this elegantly designed volume.” Publisher’s Weekly, 2002.

“No library should be without this well-designed, beautiful, and informative resource.” Kirkus Reviews, 2002.

Chan, Hingman. 2004. Celebrating Chinese New Year: An Activity Book. Asia for Kids; Activity edition. ISBN 1932457046

Otto, Carolyn. 2009. Holidays Around the World: Celebrate Chinese New Year: With Fireworks, Dragons, and Lanterns. National Geographic Society. ISBN 1426303815

Purchasing a Chinese Zodiac at a local Asian market and discussing traits associated with your birth year.

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