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Basho and the River Stones

Basho and the River Stones

5.0 1
by Tim J. Myers, Oki S. Han (Illustrator)

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The great poet Basho lives in the woods and shares the cherries from his cherry tree with the local foxes. But one tricky fox becomes greedy––He uses his magic to turn three river stones into gold coins, and then tricks Basho into giving up all of the cherries. When the fox returns to gloat over his victory, he discovers that Basho is content. Wiser


The great poet Basho lives in the woods and shares the cherries from his cherry tree with the local foxes. But one tricky fox becomes greedy––He uses his magic to turn three river stones into gold coins, and then tricks Basho into giving up all of the cherries. When the fox returns to gloat over his victory, he discovers that Basho is content. Wiser than the fox, Basho knows that a poem inspired by the beauty of the river stones is more valuable than gold. Oki S. Han’s watercolors evoke ancient Japan in this sequel to the New York Times bestseller Basho and the Fox.

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature
Poet and traveler, author of many famous haiku poems, Basho (1644-94) is the hero of this literary folk tale featuring traditional Japanese elements like the shape-changing fox. Deceived by the clever fox, Basho trades the use of his cherry tree for three gold coins that turn out to be washed river stones. How both poet and fox learn from this experience involves honor, promises, appreciation of beauty, and the writing of haiku. The characters of both Basho and the tricky fox are vivid and endearing as they end up sharing friendship, understanding, haiku, and cherries. Korean illustrator Han's watercolors capture both Basho's serene wisdom and the slyness of the fox, looking sharp in his red and white yukata. Her spreads are effective, especially one showing a temple courtyard with a lovely play of sunlight and shadow. Although patterned borders evoking Japanese textiles sometimes work very well on two adjoining pages (as in Basho's blue-and-white yukata next to a differently patterned background on the opposite page), other juxtapositions are not so harmonious, breaking the continuity of the story and jarring the eye, however lovely the individual paintings. The book's design could profit from better integration of text and illustrations or a different layout for the pictures. Still, the folktale rhythms and a focus on the beauty of simple things may hold magic for appreciative readers, inspiring further exploration of Basho's life and poetry. 2004, Marshall Cavendish, Ages 8 up.
—Barbara L. Talcroft
School Library Journal
Gr 1-4-A magical fox learns an important lesson in this original trickster tale. Disguised as a monk, he offers Basho, Japan's most revered poet, three gold coins if he agrees to give all of the cherries from his tree to the neighboring foxes. When the coins turn into river stones, the mischievous creature awaits the impoverished poet's angry outburst. However, Basho's profound appreciation of the stones' beauty takes the form of a haiku, which humbles the animal. Chagrined, he tries to give Basho three real coins, which the man summarily refuses. The fox uses his wiles to repay the poet in yet another transmogrification, and they live companionably from that day on. Han's watercolors are adept at capturing the beauty of the Japanese countryside, the serenity of Basho's hut, and the cunning expression of the fox/monk. Stylized frames separate the text from the lush backgrounds of shade-dappled pastoral scenes and striking kimono-silk patterns. The description of haiku on the title page and the appended author's note about Matsuo Basho provide just the right amount of supplemental information. Myers's storytelling background is apparent in the pacing of the tale and in the carefully selected, descriptive narrative. An exotic and eye-catching addition to storytimes.-Carol Ann Wilson, Westfield Memorial Library, NJ Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Myers revisits his characters from Basho and the Fox (2000) with another original tale in folklore tradition as pleasant as the haiku of the most revered Japanese poet that he honors. Once again, this tale of wit and courage centers on the cherries of the first story that Basho had promised to share with the foxes nearby. In an effort to trick him out of the entire crop, the fox matches wits with Basho, but finds that Basho cannot be fooled as he finds value in whatever he's given (even plain river stones) and in whatever he does. Through his example, the cunning fox, a traditional folk character in Japan, also learns to find value in kindness and sharing. The lushly colored illustrations reflect the gentle nature of Basho and establish the setting and tale as one of simplicity and reverence for true understanding and gratitude. Indeed, as Myers writes: "I've eaten cherries alone- / but they're much sweeter / when shared with a friend." (Picture book. 4-8)

Product Details

Amazon Childrens Publishing
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
8.90(w) x 11.00(h) x 0.40(d)
810L (what's this?)
Age Range:
6 - 9 Years

Meet the Author

Tim Myers is a writer, songwriter, and storyteller for children and adults. His children's books have earned a Smithsonian Notable Book award and a NCSS-CBC Notable Social Studies Trade Book award, among other honors. Basho and the Fox was a New York Times bestseller. Visit him at TimMyersStorySong.com. Tim lives in Santa Clara, CA.

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Basho and the River Stones 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
One of the things I most love about stories is their ability to present us with simple truths in compelling fashion. That's part of what I tried to do with 'Basho and the River Stones.' Naturally, I wanted this story to entertain readers (adults and children alike). But my years as a writer and a professional storyteller have taught me that even entertainment is more successful when it carries some resonating truth. In this book, the fox is capable of selfishness and deception--he's quite 'human' in that way. But when Basho's shining example is set before him, he's also capable of shame and a determination to do better. We're all like that, I suppose, to whatever degree--I can certainly see both sides of human nature in myself! So I'm uplifted and comforted at the thought that, like the fox, I can learn, grow, come to a new vision of things, deepen my values, realize what's most important--even if it takes a little trickery to set things right. After all, we have to use the gifts we were given, eh? I hope you enjoy my story! May the river stones in your life turn to gold, and the gold to river stones. Regards, Tim Myers