The Rabbit's Judgment

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Based on a Korean tale, this striking work, a picture book debut for author and artist, questions the thorny nature of justice. When a man agrees to rescue a tiger from a deep pit, he exacts a promise that the starving beast will not eat him. On gaining his freedom, however, the tiger is overwhelmed by hunger and forgets to be grateful. An ox and a pine tree are called upon to arbitrate, and soon it becomes clear that man as a species is not very popular (`` `What do men know about gratefulness?' said the pine tree. ` . . . It takes us years to grow big but when we do you cut us down' ''). At last a clever--and sympathetic--rabbit chances by. The text, rendered in deadpan prose and in Korean characters, highlights amusingly eloquent interchanges, while arrestingly skewed illustrations in a rich, natural palette illuminate the story's childlike wisdom. A sophisticated mix of oils, pencils and collage, Heo's outstanding art mingles fresh naivete with subtle folksiness. Each spread teems with insect- and bird-life, small figures filled with the graceful nobility of symbols. Her tiger, for all his greed, has child-appeal; he is a combination of the Cheshire Cat, a Lane Smith beastie with a touch of Chagall thrown in. Ages 5-8. (Mar.)
Children's Literature - Deborah Zink Roffino
Written in English and the Korean alphabet, known as Han-gul, this is a delicate tale of justice and wisdom.
School Library Journal
Gr 1-6-A Korean variant on the ``ungrateful beast'' motif. A man helps a tiger out of a pit, after which the animal seeks to devour him. The man protests and the two of them ask a pine tree, an ox, and finally a rabbit to decide who is right. The tree and the ox judge in the tiger's favor. The rabbit, however, is able to trick the tiger back in the pit, and the man continues on his way. Han gives this cautionary tale a lively, colloquial retelling; the dialogue is especially good. Heo's winsome illustrations employ oils, pencil, and collage. The humor of the story is underscored by these pictures, which are reminiscent of Lane Smith's work. Insects and bizarre little animals crawl through the backgrounds, and the tiger and ox resemble carved potatoes. Browns and yellows predominate; composition is strong, particularly in the frames in which the just-freed cat encircles the man and when the ox describes his species' slavery. The flabbergasted expression and body language of the bested tiger in the last picture is positively droll. This fine collaboration is enhanced by the complete Korean text on every page.-John Philbrook, San Francisco Public Library
Deborah Abbott
In this lively retelling of a Korean folktale, a tiger in a deep pit begs a man to help him out, but the wary man refuses. The desperate tiger promises no harm, so the man helps the beast, who immediately licks his chops in anticipation of his dinner. The man pleads for a second opinion of the tiger's plan. First, the pine tree says that man shows no charity to trees, so deserves none from the tiger. Next, the ox offers the same judgment for similar reasons. Finally, the rabbit agrees to pass judgment after the man and tiger assume their original positions. Then the rabbit cleverly points out that the problem began with the man's kindness. Eliminate that kindness, and there is no problem. This lovely bilingual book--the Korean text appears on each page above the English--contains unusual, almost collagelike paintings in earth tones that are reminiscent of Lane Smith's work. The artist's flat perspective adds interest. The tiger, with small legs and feet, sports a body that varies in length according to the plot, and a head, larger than normal, with an almost human face. The busy backgrounds feature small creatures. This is a good book for discussion, with notes on the story and the Korean alphabet.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780805026740
  • Publisher: Holt, Henry & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 3/28/1994
  • Edition description: REV
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 32
  • Age range: 5 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 10.34 (w) x 10.35 (h) x 0.41 (d)

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