Publishers Weekly - Publisher's WeeklyExtolling the wisdom of elders may sound like a bland topic, but Uchida's brisk storytelling and Springett's surprising, Japanese-woodblock-meets-superhero illustration style edge this Japanese folktale with suspense. "`Anyone over seventy is no longer useful,' the lord declared, `and must be taken into the mountains and left to die.'" Defying this harsh proclamation, a farmer keeps his aged mother in hiding for two years. When a nearby ruler threatens to conquer the village unless the local lord can perform three seemingly impossible tasks, only the farmer's mother succeeds in solving the puzzles. From now on, the lord declares, elders ``will be treated with respect and honor, and will share with us the wisdom of their years.'' What's not for a parent to love here? And the clever solutions to the three tasks, plus the familiar visual cues of good-versus-evil, should gratify the younger generation, too. Ages 5-9. (Oct.)
Hazel RochmanUchida retells an old Japanese folktale with quiet intensity. The cruel, young village lord decrees that people over 70 are useless and must be taken to the mountains to die. A young farmer cannot bear to abandon his mother, so he hides her deep in a cave beneath the kitchen. One day when the village is threatened by a mighty conqueror, the wisdom of the hidden old woman saves the people; then respect and honor are restored for all of the aged. The stylized airbrush-and-ink illustrations in strong shades of purple, brown, and blue have the elegance and fluidity of traditional Japanese prints. The changing perspectives express the reversals of the story as the woman, once a fugitive, gets to take center stage.
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