Monday 9 October 2017

Two Enchanted Tales from Old China

Two Enchanted Tales from Old China retold by Gabrielle Wang, illustrated by David Allan (Christmas Press) PB RRP $17.99
ISBN 9780994528025

Review by Wendy Haynes

There are two delightful tales in this picture book. The first tale, The Weaver Girl and the Cow Herd, is about two stars in the heavens that fall in love. Zhinu, the weaver girl, is the granddaughter of the Heavenly Empress, and she separates the two lovers. Niulng is banished to the land of mortals where he is reborn into a farming family and has no memory of the past but feels a connection with the stars. His loyal Ox is no ordinary Ox, and Niulang is guided by his wisdom in search of a bride.

The second tale, The Magic Fish Bones is about a time in the ancient country of Chin, where Ye Xian was left to slave for her stepmother and stepsister after her father dies. Though you could put this story alongside Cinderella; this story stands on its own two feet and has a totally different ending. Ye Xian has a fish with golden scales which she loves and tends too. After a while, the fish grows too big, and she releases it into a nearby pond.  Each day she calls the fish to the edge of the pond and gives it treats.  Her horrid stepmother kills the fish, but the bones are magic.

These stories will linger and would appeal to 6 – 8 years although they are in picture book form. The sentences are long and graceful. Gabrielle's other books include The Race for the Chinese Zodiac, The Garden of Empress Cassia, A ghost in my Suitcase and others.

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