I, Doko: A Basket's Tale

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Doko is only a simple basket. It is not only grain from the field that he carries?he has also carried his master's child, and wood for the fire. He was there when the child became a man and married. And he very nearly had to carry the grandfather away forever. Luckily, someone wise beyond their years spoke up and made it possible for Doko to carry the grandfather home again instead.
As ever, Ed Young has taken a simple fable and made it into a masterpiece of stunning ...

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Overview

Doko is only a simple basket. It is not only grain from the field that he carries—he has also carried his master's child, and wood for the fire. He was there when the child became a man and married. And he very nearly had to carry the grandfather away forever. Luckily, someone wise beyond their years spoke up and made it possible for Doko to carry the grandfather home again instead.
As ever, Ed Young has taken a simple fable and made it into a masterpiece of stunning illustration and expert storytelling. This beautiful and unique book celebrates the generations with great originality.

A Nepalese basket tells the story of its use through three generations of a family.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Young's (Lon Po Po) mixed-media artwork is stunning in this exquisitely designed book, but the often confusing, moralistic adaptation of a Nepalese folktale may be too inaccessible for some readers. As the ending suggests, the book tells how "Wangal's love and respect for his grandfather inspired and transformed the whole village in how to treat elders." Unfortunately, the story is told somewhat awkwardly in first-person by the family's large basket, Doko (which means "basket" in Nepalese). Doko witnesses the events and features prominently in the story's resolution, but the basket acting as narrator serves to distance readers from the characters and makes for some clunky explanations. When the aged grandfather, Yeh-yeh, becomes a nuisance by inadvertently setting the house afire, Wangal's parents decide to leave the man on the temple steps for the priests to tend. Like an amateur thespian, Doko asks readers, "What could I, a basket, do!" As his father carries Yeh-yeh away in the basket, young Wangal exposes his father's cruelty with his cathartic request: he asks his father to make sure he brings Doko back, because then he "won't need to buy another Doko when you are old and it is time to leave you on the temple steps." Accompanied by artistically sophisticated and emotionally powerful illustrations, the brief text mostly serves to summarize the story, and devotes little room to the relationships between characters. Despite the uplifting message and gilt-edged pages framing dramatically appealing artwork, this intergenerational story ultimately disappoints. Ages 4-up. (Nov.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
Doko, a large basket, tells this folktale rich with the life of a Nepalese farmer's family as it teaches a lesson to ponder. Yeh-yeh chooses the basket for his wife Nei-nei to carry their baby while working in the fields. As the boy grows, the basket goes with him on his chores. When he marries, he uses Doko to proudly carry the bride's dowry to their new home. Their baby Wangal is carried into the fields in the basket until Yeh-yeh breaks his hip. Then he, Wangal, and Doko stay home together. As time passes, Wangal's parents decide that Yeh-yeh is too old and feeble. It is time to leave him on the temple steps for the priests to feed. Wangal's father is taking Yeh-yeh in Doko to the temple when Wangal makes him realize what he is doing. He is ashamed, and his change transforms "the whole village in how to treat elders." Gouache, pastels, and collage combine with gold borders and end-papers to create double-page scenes spilling over with emotion. We burn in a sandy, drought-ravaged landscape. We feel the tragedy of Yeh-yeh's fall in the dark blues of the picture. Young's drawing incorporates the subtle elegance of Asian scrolls with the expressive force of Western art. He creates a cast we believe in whether presented in close-up portraits or simply sitting and smoking a water pipe. It takes no words, only tears in the father's eyes to show us his transformation. 2004, Philomel Books/Penguin Young Readers Group, Ages 5 to 9.
—Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal
K-Gr 3-This fable begins at the marketplace, when a young father chooses a new basket for his family. Told from the point of view of the basket, the story proceeds as the baby boy grows up, the man's wife dies, and the son marries and has a family of his own. Through the years, the basket carries infants, crops, and even the woman's body to her grave; it becomes part of the family in a very fundamental way. At last, the father is a disabled old man and his son proposes to leave him at the temple so the priests will have to take care of him. The basket is consigned to carry him there, until the grandson intervenes with a haunting question that offers the moral of this traditional tale from Nepal. A quote from Kung Fu Tze in the sixth century B.C. opens the book: "What one wishes not upon oneself, one burdens not upon another." The simple text offers a splendid backdrop for the beautiful illustrations. Done in gouache, pastel, and collage, the pictures have graceful lines, subtle textures, and magnificent colors. With gold endpapers and gold edgings around each page, there's a timeless quality suited to the story. Lovely.-Lauralyn Persson, Wilmette Public Library, IL Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
The epigraph from Kung Fu Tze-"What one wishes not upon oneself, one burdens not upon another"-aptly summarizes this simple parable set in Nepal. Doko, the teller, is a large basket that has carried a baby, kindling wood, a dowry, and a body to a grave, but grieves when the feeble grandfather is to be carried away to be abandoned on the temple steps. Perhaps inspired by the stories his grandfather has told him, the young grandson stops his father by reminding him to bring back the basket, so he won't have to buy another, "when you are old and it is time to leave you on the temple steps." The father's weeping eyes, his son reflected in his pupils, is manga-like in intensity. The dynamic, jewel-toned pastel, collage and gouache illustrations, bordered and flecked with gold give dignity, richness and power to a traditional Asian tale that embodies both the Golden Rule and respect for the elderly. (Picture book. 5-8)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780399236259
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 11/4/2004
  • Pages: 32
  • Age range: 5 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.84 (w) x 11.32 (h) x 0.41 (d)

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 1, 2005

    I, Awed

    Doko, a Nepalese basket, tells its own clever story. Brief, beautifully illustrated, inspiring for all ages. As ideal as a picture book gets. Aging baby boomers would do well to buy this for offspring. Read the book to find out why.

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