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Mysterious Tales of Japan
     

Mysterious Tales of Japan

by Rafe Martin, Tatsuro Kiuchi (Illustrator)
 
A priest becomes a fish. A young samurai falls in love with a willow tree. A boy draws a cat who comes to life. These are just some of the remarkable plots introduced by award-winning storyteller Rafe Martin, as he retells 10 of his favorite Japanese folktales.

Overview

A priest becomes a fish. A young samurai falls in love with a willow tree. A boy draws a cat who comes to life. These are just some of the remarkable plots introduced by award-winning storyteller Rafe Martin, as he retells 10 of his favorite Japanese folktales.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Cahners\\Publishers_Weekly
Compared to their horror-laced Western cousins, these Japanese ghost tales 'distill the essence of what is mysterious in life in order to remind us of the dreamlike-'ghostly,' if you will-reality of all things,' writes Martin in his apt introduction. The 10 wonderfully, eerily told tales he shares here rely not on terror for impact, but on enigma, subtlety, moral implication and taut storytelling. For example, 'Urashima Taro,' identified in the source notes as perhaps the most popular Japanese folktale, takes as its hero a kind fisherman who stops boys from killing a sea turtle that is actually the Dragon King. Taro is rewarded with marriage to the King's beautiful daughter, on the Island Where Summer Never Dies; he thinks he has spent three years there, but in fact three centuries have elapsed before he tries to visit his home. Each story has a shivery ending, its resonance enhanced by Kiuchi's subtle oil paintings. Supplying one full-page illustration for each tale, Kiuchi eschews the supernatural elements in favor of depicting a seemingly ordinary moment in the narrative, in this way preserving its powerful ambiguities.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Compared to their horror-laced Western cousins, these Japanese ghost tales "distill the essence of what is mysterious in life in order to remind us of the dreamlike-`ghostly,' if you will-reality of all things," writes Martin in his apt introduction. The 10 wonderfully, eerily told tales he shares here rely not on terror for impact, but on enigma, subtlety, moral implication and taut storytelling. For example, "Urashima Taro," identified in the source notes as perhaps the most popular Japanese folktale, takes as its hero a kind fisherman who stops boys from killing a sea turtle that is actually the Dragon King. Taro is rewarded with marriage to the King's beautiful daughter, on the Island Where Summer Never Dies; he thinks he has spent three years there, but in fact three centuries have elapsed before he tries to visit his home. Each story has a shivery ending, its resonance enhanced by Kiuchi's subtle oil paintings. Supplying one full-page illustration for each tale, Kiuchi eschews the supernatural elements in favor of depicting a seemingly ordinary moment in the narrative, in this way preserving its powerful ambiguities. Ages 8-up. (Mar.)
School Library Journal
Gr 3-8-A collection of traditional stories, many of which were first introduced to the West by Lafcadio Hearn. Martin, who acknowledges his debt to Hearn in his introduction, excellent source notes, and bibliography, has retold "Urashima Taro," "Ho-ichi the Earless," "The Boy Who Drew Cats, " and seven other well-chosen tales in the lively voice of a talented storyteller. In a style honed and polished by years of telling, he introduces salient incidents and descriptions to reveal character and drive the narratives. The verbal imagery is even more compelling than the evocative paintings. One story in this collection appears in Eric Quayle's The Shining Princess and other Japanese Legends (Arcade, 1989), and none repeat selections in Yoko Kawashima Watkins's Tales from the Bamboo Grove (Bradbury, 1992). Shivery, mysterious, and cool as moonlight, these retellings respect both their sources and their audience, while doing what stories do best-entertain.-Margaret A. Chang, North Adams State College, MA
Leone McDermott
Some of these 10 stories, such as "The Boy Who Drew Cats," will be familiar to readers; others will not. But all the tales are characterized by an eerie beauty. In his introduction, Martin explains this quality as peculiarly Japanese, with roots in the Shinto and Buddhist views of life. Most of the tales focus on the spiritual powers within nature. A woman falls in love with a pine tree; a man marries a dangerous snow maiden; a priest is granted a wish to live three days as a carp. The theme of kindness repaid occurs frequently but with a twist of bittersweet loss unusual in Western folklore. Several stories are ghost tales, but even those are haunting rather than horrifying. Every tale is headed with a haiku and illustrated with one black-and-white drawing and one color plate. As with his earlier work "The Rough-Face Girl" (1992), Martin's interpretations linger long in the mind.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780399226779
Publisher:
Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
Publication date:
03/19/1996
Pages:
74
Product dimensions:
7.60(w) x 9.58(h) x 0.55(d)
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

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