White Tiger, Blue Serpent

White Tiger, Blue Serpent

by Grace Tseng, Jean Tseng, Jean & Mou-sien Tseng

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A long time ago, in remote region of China, a great river ran its course between two very different lands. On its east bank was a fertile land of magical mountains. But despite its beauty, no one dared enter, for it was said that the jealous goddess Qin lived there guarded by a ferocious white tiger and a monstrous blue serpent.

On the West Bank, the land


A long time ago, in remote region of China, a great river ran its course between two very different lands. On its east bank was a fertile land of magical mountains. But despite its beauty, no one dared enter, for it was said that the jealous goddess Qin lived there guarded by a ferocious white tiger and a monstrous blue serpent.

On the West Bank, the land was rocky and infertile. On this unlucky side of the river lived a young boy named Kai. His mother was a weaver and the silk tapestries (called brocades) she made to sell at market were so beautiful that Kai begged her to wave a special brocade for the two of them to keep. When it was finished, it was the most beautiful of all - so beautiful that the greedy goddess Qin stole it for herself.

now Kai must venture into Qin's fearsome land, face the tiger's jaws, and defeat the gigantic serpent to rescue the brocade.

Jean and Mou-sien Tseng's radiant paintings, inspired by masterworks of the Ming Dynasty, illuminate their daughter Grace's stirring retelling of a favorite Chinese folktale.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
First-time author Tseng, the daughter of the noted illustrators (Maples in the Mist), retells a folktale from southwest China. Kai and his mother work hard all day, Kai at fishing, his mother at weaving brocades that she barters for food and firewood. Kai loves the brocades, and convinces his mother to make just one for them to keep, promising to work even longer and harder to pay for it. But when the brocade is finished, the greedy goddess Qin steals it. Kai, drawing upon the heroic strength he has acquired from performing his extra work, defeats Qin's white tiger and blue serpent handily. Qin calls up a whirlwind to blow Kai away; not only does it send Kai back to his own land, but it blows the creatures off the brocade right along with him. Grace Tseng's formal tone combines immediacy with the timelessness of folklore ("A thousand of his mother's days and a thousand of her nights were in that brocade. He would not stand here and see it stolen!"). Jean and Mou-sien Tseng's watercolor paintings, said to be inspired by masterworks of the Ming Dynasty, are distinguished by both their delicacy of line and the fullness of the compositions. The formats are skillfully varied (some full bleeds, some bordered, some rendered in narrow panels reminiscent of Chinese scrolls) to quicken the pace and accentuate the drama of the tale. Ages 6-up. (May) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Children's Literature - Tracy Defina
This beautiful story takes place in China, many years ago. A river there runs between two very different lands. One to the east is a magical place with beautiful mountains and animals everywhere. This is the home of Qin who is said to be a jealous goddess protected by the infamous white tiger and blue serpent. To the west lives a poor young boy, Kai, and his mother. She is a weaver of beautiful tapestries and promises one day to make one for him to keep rather than to sell in the market. Readers will sympathize with Kai and his mother's distress as the masterpiece, that has taken a thousand days to complete, is mysteriously carried away by the wind. Will Kai recover his mother's beloved work of art? Readers venture to Qin's magical land where Kai confronts the fearsome tiger and a serpent. Illustrated by the author's parents, the paintings in the book are inspired by art of the Ming Dynasty. Each is a work of art and makes this retelling of an ancient Chinese folktale a book worth keeping.
School Library Journal - School Library Journal
Gr 1-4-An original fantasy based on a folktale from China's Yunnan Province. Kai and his mother live on the barren shore of a raging river. Though a bridge leads across the water to a rich and fertile land, no one goes there, for a tiger and a serpent guard it for their mistress, a terrifying goddess. Kai's mother weaves beautiful silk brocades, which the boy trades for firewood and rice. Yearning to keep one for himself, he does the work of a man for a thousand days, becoming supernaturally agile, strong, and sharp-eyed as his mother weaves a magnificent design inspired by the forbidden landscape. When the cloth is finished, the goddess sends a wind that sweeps it into her realm. Undaunted, Kai uses his newfound strength to regain it. Grace Tseng's free retelling is firmly grounded in Chinese traditional literature. Similar versions of the story appear in He Liyi's The Spring of Butterflies (Lothrop, 1986; o.p.) and M. A. Jagendorf and Virginia Weng's The Magic Boat (Vanguard, 1980; o.p.); picture-book versions include Marilee Heyer's The Weaving of a Dream (Puffin, 1989) and Demi's The Magic Tapestry (Holt, 1995). Whether depicting crowd scenes, fantastic mountains, or the fearsome characters, the illustrators provide a fresh interpretation of classic Chinese painting that could serve as a bridge to Chinese art history. Libraries owning the Heyer title, which casts the Chinese mythic setting as science-fiction phantasmagoria, will certainly want this new story. Older children could compare the art in both books. Younger listeners will simply enjoy Kai's breathtaking adventures.-Margaret A. Chang, Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, North Adams Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
This lovely tale retold by the daughter of the illustrators comes from the Drung tribe of China's Yunnan Province. The story depicts two lands divided by a river, one of which is the bewitched and beautiful land of the jealous goddess Qin, protected by the white tiger and blue serpent and never visited by the people on the other side, humble peasants who count in their number a young boy named Kai and his mother, a master weaver. Kai would like to be able to keep one of her gorgeous brocades, and so he and his mother make a pact; she will weave the most glorious brocade, but during the thousand days she works on it, Kai will have to provide for them. By dint of hard work, Kai fulfills his promise, and so does his mother, but before they can enjoy the brocade, Qin works her wiles to snatch it away. Kai pursues it, facing the tiger and serpent, while the story folds back on itself in a delightful spray of magic. The narrative has an elegant, aged feeling to it, as though it has been burnished by so many retellings. The illustrators' Ming-influenced artwork works admirably as a setting for the story. (Picture book/folklore. 6-9)

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
9.57(w) x 11.32(h) x 0.35(d)
Age Range:
6 - 9 Years

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