Thursday, August 2, 2012
Yeh Shen, by Ai-Ling Louie
Yeh-Shen: A Cinderella Tale from China
retold by Ai-Ling Louie
illustrated by Ed Young
New York: Puffin
A traditional Chinese version of the classic tale.
Instead of a Disney mouse or a talking tree, this young woman has a magical fish to hear her woes and offer advice. Her envious stepmother kills the fish, but the bones retain special powers to grant wishes. The girl's inner goodness eventually gains her great reward, and the stepmother and stepsister meet a grisly fate.
The illustrations are presented in sections representing hanging cloth or fine paper panels, like traditional Chinese artwork and poetry. The flowing script of the cover is reminiscent of inky brushstrokes to match, but the story's text is in a normal typeset font.
While suitable for younger grades, this book would be welcome in a language or history class unit on folktales -- there are several dozen similar Cinderella tales from other parts of the world with which to compare it. Not all of them will have such glowing illustrations, sadly, but I'd recommend KY Craft's version (just as striking as The Twelve Dancing Princesses) or Ruth Sanderson's, The Korean Cinderella, The Rough-Face Girl, Domitla, The Golden Sandal, Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters, or -- for a twist! -- Cinder Edna, Prince Cinders, or Cindy Ellen: A Wild Western Cinderella.
1982 ALA Notable Book
1982 Boston Globe Horn Book Honor
Media: colored pencil, watercolor