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The Beggar's Magic: A Chinese Tale
     

The Beggar's Magic: A Chinese Tale

by Margaret S. Chang, Raymond Chang, David A. Johnson (Illustrator)
 
A cautionary tale from ancient China--full of contemporary appeal. A greedy, selfish farmer gets up comeuppance at the August Moon Festival, when the kindly beggar priest whom he has slighted performs a magic trick that makes the farmer a laughingstock of the village. Full color.

Overview

A cautionary tale from ancient China--full of contemporary appeal. A greedy, selfish farmer gets up comeuppance at the August Moon Festival, when the kindly beggar priest whom he has slighted performs a magic trick that makes the farmer a laughingstock of the village. Full color.

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Rebecca Joseph
Young Fu Nan befriends an old beggar priest who comes to his small town in ancient China. This priest, who has no earthly possessions and must beg for food, has magical powers, as Fu Nan and his friends discover. Only one person refuses to give anything to the old pries. Farmer Wu, in fact, is causing trouble for many people in Fu Nan's town because he has diverted a river for his own private uses. When Farmer Wu refuses to give a pear, the priest performs a magic trick that delights everyone except the villain himself. This is a lovely retelling of an ancient Chinese story first published in 1908. Johnson's color line-drawings match the simplicity and honesty of this age-old tale.
School Library Journal
Gr 1-5--Fu Nan and his friends befriend an old man who comes to their village, thinking him to be a priest of some sort. Soon they notice that he can work miracles. His most wondrous feat is to punish a rich and covetous farmer by planting a fast-growing pear tree whose fruit he shares with all the villagers. Only later does the greedy man discover that the pears were magically transported from his own cart, the cart itself supplying the wood for the tree. The stranger, of course, disappears around a bend in the road. This delightful cautionary tale on avarice and selfishness is drawn from a 17th-century collection of wonder tales by Pu Songling from which the Changs have drawn their The Cricket Warrior (Atheneum, 1994). Here, while preserving the main narrative and points of the tale, they add to its child appeal by creating the character of Fu Nan and having him and his friends become absorbed in the beggar's life. The prose is simple and elegant with just the right elaboration and matter-of-fact tone to put the tale across convincingly. Johnson's watercolor-and-ink illustrations, in warm brown and orange pastels, lovingly evoke the dustiness of much of rural Imperial China, albeit a bit idealized. (The beggar actually resembles surviving portraits of Wu Jingzi, fellow writer and near contemporary of Pu Songling.) Illustrations and text blend beautifully to make a perfect gem of a book that will linger in the mind long after a first reading.--John Philbrook, formerly at San Francisco Public Library
Kirkus Reviews
The Changs (The Cricket Warrior, 1994, etc.) retell an ancient Chinese tale about selfishness and sharing, set to luminous illustrations by Johnson.

A holy beggar-priest comes to young Fu Nan's village. The boy and his friends are fascinated by the old man, whose cheer and care for all creatures impress them as much as the magic he works: drawing a sparrow that escapes from the page as a real sparrow escapes from a boy's cage; filling an old widow's dry well with water. When the August Moon Festival arrives, and rich Farmer Wu refuses to give a sweet, ripe pear to the priest, the holy beggar takes a pear seed, astonishing the crowd and admonishing the selfish farmer in one act of conjuring. Johnson's ink, watercolor, and colored-pencil illustrations have the pale luster of Chinese silk; his sure rendering of animals, fruit, and flowers, and his use of flat space and elegant line, are inspired by Chinese painting and calligraphy. The book is as satisfying as unselfishness rewarded fully and meanness punished neatly.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780689813405
Publisher:
Margaret K. McElderry Books
Publication date:
09/01/1997
Pages:
32
Product dimensions:
8.85(w) x 9.86(h) x 0.41(d)
Lexile:
870L (what's this?)
Age Range:
6 - 9 Years

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