How the Ox Star Fell from Heaven

Overview

According to this old Chinese story, oxen once lived lives of luxury in the heavens. There were no beasts of burden on the earth. People had to do all the work of growing food on their own, and they often could not grow enough. When the Ox Star is sent to deliver a message to the people from the Emperor of All the Heavens, he garbles the words and is banished from the heavens forever to become a beast of burden on the earth. What was a celestial blunder becomes an earthly ...
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Overview

According to this old Chinese story, oxen once lived lives of luxury in the heavens. There were no beasts of burden on the earth. People had to do all the work of growing food on their own, and they often could not grow enough. When the Ox Star is sent to deliver a message to the people from the Emperor of All the Heavens, he garbles the words and is banished from the heavens forever to become a beast of burden on the earth. What was a celestial blunder becomes an earthly blessing.

A Chinese folk tale which explains why the ox was banished from heaven to become the farmer's beast of burden.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In a text at once poetic and straightforward, Hong retells a Chinese legend that explains how oxen first came to reside on earth. She describes how these creatures once lived a life of luxury at the palace of the Emperor of All Heavens. Because the farmers on earth had no beasts to help in the fields, they never produced enough food. Taking pity on them, the emperor sent Ox Star, a trusted oxen, to inform the peasants that they would eat at least once every three days. But Ox Star bungled the message and told them that they would eat three times a day, every day. As punishment, he was banished to earth to become the first beast of burden. Hushed shades of blue, purple and bronze--with occasional splashes of bright red and orange for contrast--dominate the distinctive, boldly defined illustrations, done in gouache and airbrushed acrylics. Appearing both Oriental and timeless, this highly stylized artwork lends distinction to a striking debut. Ages 5-8. ( Apr. )
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 6-- In early times, oxen led luxurious lives in heaven while people toiled ceaselessly on earth. Wishing to improve the lot of the farmers a bit, the Emperor of All the Heavens mandates that people should eat once every three days and entrusts the Ox Star with the delivery of this decree. Although strong, the Ox Star is not very bright, so the message comes out, ``You shall eat three times a day, everyday.'' Enraged, the heavenly administrator banishes all oxen to earth as beasts of burden. Ostensibly a myth explaining a point of cosmology, this Chinese folktale has elements of the Prometheus myth as well as touches of satire. Hong's gouache and acrylic illustrations are truly splendid. Bright, bold, and inventive, they combine traditional motifs with modern techniques to illuminate and expand the text. The judicious use of color and the careful composition make each page a perfect complement without interrupting the flow of the whole. The whimsical characters satisfy the needs of the story and the eye; the blase expressions on the oxen's faces tickle the funnybone, yet add a depth to their resignation. In short, an impressive debut and a delight fallen from heaven. --John Philbrook, San Francisco Public Library
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780807534298
  • Publisher: Whitman, Albert & Company
  • Publication date: 9/1/1995
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 10.63 (w) x 8.52 (h) x 0.11 (d)

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