The Tale of Two Rice Birds: A Folktale from Thailand

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Meeker and Lamb debut with an exceptionally prescient and well-wrought retelling of a Thai folktale. Two rice birds ensconce themselves in a teakwood tree, have children and would live happily forever after were it not for a tragic accident and an equally tragic misunderstanding. All is not lost, however, for the love that bound the parent birds follows them into future incarnations, when the female becomes a stubborn princess and the male, a canny peasant. The beauty of the story is matched by Lamb's panoply of Eastern-inspired illustrations that transform into Thai-like murals. Intricate, pleasing borders and rich colors align with the the text to make this book a glorious introduction not only to a timeless tale but also to the artistic and cultural sensibilities of a foreign land. Ages 4-up. (Sept.)
School Library Journal
Gr 1-4-In this adaptation of a Thai folktale, a mother rice bird sees her three babies perish when a fire engulfs their tree. In her grief and rage at her husband's absence, she flies into the smoldering ashes, vowing to speak to no male if she is reborn a human. The father bird, who has returned, flies after her to his death. She is reborn a princess, he a farmer's son. Her father declares she will marry the man who gets her to speak. The farmer's son wins her hand when, through closed doors, he tells the princess a story that demands an ending. This nicely told but often wordy tale of enduring love is accompanied by vibrant, luminous, stylized illustrations, based on the mural art that decorates the walls of Thai temples and palaces. Bordering the top of each page is a band of lotus blossoms and rice birds. A pleasant addition to multicultural collections.-Diane S. Marton, Arlington County Library, VA
Janice Del Negro
Blaming her mate for the fiery deaths of her nestlings, an angry, grieving mother rice bird dives into the smoldering ashes to her own death. She is followed by her husband, who is determined to be reunited with her in the next life. The father rice bird is reborn as a farmer's son, and the mother is reborn as a princess "who never spoke to men, not even her father." By royal proclamation, the princess' husband will be the man who can make her speak. With a well-told tale and a wisely thrown voice, the farmer's son elicits a response from the silent princess, and they marry and rule "wisely and faithfully together." This picture-book tale of reincarnation and love across lifetimes is illustrated in foil-accented paintings based on Thai mural art. The artwork is beautifully detailed and richly colored, providing a stagelike backdrop for the unfolding of the complex plot. With high production values and a gracefully written text, the book is nothing short of gorgeous and would be a thought-provoking story to use with junior-high and even high-school groups. An extensive source note discusses the place of the tale in Thai culture and in the Buddhist tradition. Although the note states "all children in Thailand know the story of the two rice birds," it does not provide specific written or oral sources.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781570610080
  • Publisher: Sasquatch Books
  • Publication date: 9/1/1994
  • Pages: 32
  • Age range: 6 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 9.08 (w) x 11.56 (h) x 0.41 (d)

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