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The Jade Stone: A Chinese Folktale
     

The Jade Stone: A Chinese Folktale

by Caryn Yacowitz, Ju-Hong Chen (Illustrator)
 

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When the Great Emperor of All China commands him to carve a Dragon of Wind and Fire in a piece of perfect jade, Chan Lo discovers the stone wants to be something else.

Overview

When the Great Emperor of All China commands him to carve a Dragon of Wind and Fire in a piece of perfect jade, Chan Lo discovers the stone wants to be something else.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This solid retelling of a traditional Chinese folktale concerns artistic integrity. A stone carver can't carve the dragon out of the ``perfect piece of green and white jade stone,'' as the Great Emperor of All China has commanded, because a dragon is not what the stone innately ``wants'' to be. The entire kingdom is in an uproar, and still the craftsman insists on following his creative instincts--to his death, if necessary. Though this moral tale has a timeless--and somewhat timely--quality, its visual presentation is weak. Chen's authentic drawings, while subtle, lack dramatic power; the overall design of the book is bland and does not set off the illustrations; and the interior typeface does not complement the art. The story will read aloud well, and perhaps children will not notice the lack of artistry in the book's overall appearance. Ages 4-8. (Apr.)
Children's Literature
This story is based upon a Chinese folktale, and the illustrations are ink and watercolor paintings on handmade rice paper. The artist writes that he "tried to evoke the look of ancient hand-colored oriental wood-block prints" and he has succeeded beautifully. The text and illustrations combine to present a story which captures the sense of the old folktale while piquing the interest of the contemporary young reader. The tale is of a talented stone carver named Chan Lo who listens to each stone until the stone tells him what it wants to be. The Great Emperor of All China has Chan Lo brought to the Celestial Palace where he is presented with a magnificent piece of jade. The Emperor commands Chan Lo to carve a dragon of wind and fire. Chan Lo promises to do his best, but as he listens to the stone he realizes the stone is not meant to be a dragon. Chan Lo must pay attention to his dreams and to the voice of the stone. The resolution is satisfying and the book is a pleasure to read. 2005 (orig. 1992), Pelican Publishing Company, Ages 5 to 8.
—Carolyn Mott Ford
Children's Literature - Jan Lieberman
Just as Michelangelo would carve only what was in the marble, so will Chan Lo, master sculptor, carve only what the stones tell him. His dilemma is the age-old one of pleasing his patron, the Emperor, or listening to the sounds within the jade. Ms. Yacowitz has written a beautiful adaptation of this ancient story. The paintings depict a China of old and complement the artistic storytelling style of Ms. Yacowitz.
Children's Literature - Deborah Zink Roffino
Soft rice paper sketches recreate the ancient Chinese Emperor's palace and gardens in this tale about being true to oneself.
School Library Journal
K-Gr 3-- ``A dragon of wind and fire'' is what the Great Emperor of All China commands of the humble stone carver Chan Lo, as he gives him a perfect piece of jade. But Chan Lo can carve only what he hears in the stone. ``Pah-tah'' comes from deep inside. Next, ``bub-bubb-bubble.'' A third time, ``s-s-s-ah.'' Knowing that he has not heard dragon noises, Chan Lo works for a year and a day before setting off with his creation--three carp. No punishment is harsh enough for someone who has so defied the emperor, who says, ``I will let my dreams decide.'' In these dreams he sees the sources of Chan Lo's inspiration, and so rewards him with the title of Master Carver. With its rhythm and sounds, this adaptation of a Chinese folktale begs to be read aloud. Visually it advances like the unrolling of an Oriental scroll: watercolor-and-ink drawings on stone-colored handmade rice paper, made narrow by white top and bottom margins. Chen's device of outlining his drawings with a taupe band adds a sense of depth and makes them visible for group sharing. A very satisfying tale, whether read aloud or pored over alone to pick up the whimsical humor of the illustrations. --Diane S. Marton, Arlington County Library, VA

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780823409198
Publisher:
Holiday House, Inc.
Publication date:
03/01/1992
Edition description:
1st ed
Pages:
32
Product dimensions:
10.29(w) x 8.34(h) x 0.38(d)
Age Range:
4 - 8 Years

Meet the Author

Author Caryn Yacowitz lives in Palo Alto, California. She has published eleven children's books, including her Native American Series, and her poetry and plays have appeared in several anthologies. She holds a master of arts degree in creative writing from San Francisco State University and an undergraduate degree in history/political science from Rutgers University. Ms. Yacowitz teaches writing at several colleges and universities in northern California. Her picture book Pumpkin Fiesta was named to the California Collections in 2005.

Ju Hong Chen is a self-taught artist who grew up in Communist China. Purposely avoiding the "official line" training of China's art schools, he worked as an art designer in a factory. He moved to the United States in the 1980s, and his first picture book, The Magic Leaf, was named a Parents' Choice Honor Book for illustration soon after his arrival. His first book with Pelican, The Jade Stone, received a starred review from Kirkus and was named a best picture book by the San Francisco Chronicle and Book Links. Some of the book's art was included in the textbooks Stories on Stage: Scripts for Reader's Theater and Junior Great Books Series 2. Chen resides in Beaverton, Oregon.

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