This tale of wisdom and foolishness, generosity and greed unfolds against the lush landscape of Korea. When Sir Whong, the village sage, lends a stranger a large amount of money, accepting a golden pig as collateral, he soon realizes his mistake. He has been tricked, and must devise a cunning plan to win back his money and his honor. Adapted from a traditional Korean tale, this retelling is somewhat lacking in humor. While the explication of Korean culture proves absorbing, clarity is occasionally sacrificed: the essential plot twist, in particular, may need explaining to young audiences. In contrast, Han's atmosphere-laden watercolors capture both the bustle of village life and the serenity of an ancient country. With a vibrant palette, ornate borders and scrupulous attention to indigenous details (elaborately carved furnishings, unique domestic paraphernalia), this debut illustrator masterfully brings to life an exotic locale. An artistic--and uncommon--addition to the multicultural bookshelf. Ages 4-8. (Mar.)
School Library Journal
Gr 1-6-- A Korean folktale of a trickster out-tricked. Sir Whong is renowned in his village for his gentility, generosity, and wealth. Mr. Oh appears one day and asks to borrow a large sum of money. Since he is a stranger to Sir Whong, Mr. Oh offers a golden pig as collateral. Receiving the money, he departs to joyously squander it. The golden pig is soon discovered to be a fake and Sir Whong concocts a simple yet ingenious strategem to get his money back, providing a delightful resolution to this cautionary tale. The text is simple and to the point; the limpid prose admirably advances the story while providing small touches of local color. Han's watercolors are folksy and bright, containing many loving details of traditional Korean country life. They also truly illustrate the tale, mirroring the prose in detail and conveying--sometimes subtly, sometimes not--the two main characters' personalities with great skill and humor. Folktale collections won't want to be without Sir Whong, social studies classes will mine it for its authenticity, and individual readers will treasure it as a satisfying story of justice well done. A fine collaboration. --John Philbrook, San Francisco Public Library
Janice Del Negro
Known for his kindness and generosity, Sir Whong falls prey to a scoundrel, Mr. Oh, who borrows one thousand nyung (money), using a pig made of gold as collateral. Sir Whong discovers the pig is not real gold at all and, realizing he has been swindled, sets about recovering his money. The deceived does, indeed, trick the deceiver, and, after regaining his thousand nyung, "Mr. Whong lived happily, his fine reputation secure forever." Han and Plunkett retell this ancient Korean tale with humor and a strong sense of place, reinforced by Han's substantial watercolor illustrations. The rich hues and ornamental patterns lend a prosperous feeling to many of the paintings, while decorative borders that sometimes surround the text add depth and texture to the composition. Suitable for reading aloud as well as for storytelling, this will be a solid addition to comparative folktale collections.