Gr 2-5-- This exquisite story utilizes a motif common to many Japanese folktales, that of an object or drawing coming to life to create good. A picture of five flying geese, painted by a Japanese artist over 300 years ago, is treasured in Kenji's home. When floods ruin the rice houses, his family must sell it in order to buy food. Before the art buyer takes possession of it, Kenji decides to give the birds something to remember--a ride high in the sky. He pastes the picture on a kite so the five birds can fly with the wild geese overhead, and when the painting is pulled back down, there are only four. As the story progresses, several other changes in the picture take place. In the end, the family is able to keep it. Reminiscent of Japanese paintings, the Tsengs' realistic illustrations are full of color--neither too bright nor too dull--and they fully complement Johnson's fanciful tale. --Sharron McElmeel, Cedar Rapids Community Schools, IA
Kenji and his family own a very valuable painting of five wild geese in flight. Little Kenji is especially fond of this nearly 300-year-old work of art. But hard times fall on his family, and the painting must be sold to make ends meet. Before the art collector can make off with the painting, Kenji gives his beloved geese a real ride on his kite, starting a chain of miraculous changes. The author has conjured up a magical tale that reminds us that great art should belong to everyone and not just to those who can afford it. The Tsengs' paintings are a rich accompaniment to the story, offering expressive faces as well as quaint renderings of the Japanese countryside.