Gr 3-6-One day a fisherman sails up an unfamiliar stream and discovers a hidden valley where people live contentedly, having had no contact with the outside world for several hundred years. Enjoying the serenity of the place, the man decides to live there, but first wants to go back home to fetch his possessions. Upon leaving, he is adjured by the inhabitants not to let anyone know of the valley's existence. Though he promises, he does tell a few friends and soon finds himself leading a veritable horde back to Peach Blossom Spring. The markers he had left have disappeared, and so he never finds the place again. Although not noted in the book, this utopian tale is the work of the early Chinese poet, Tao Yuanming (365-427 C.E.). Bordewich omits some extraneous historical references and adds a few minor scenes and some dialogue, all of which make the retelling more cogent and enjoyable for children. His prose is simple and elegant. Yang's dreamy watercolor illustrations, done in traditional Chinese style, suit the text well. An especially fine touch is the subtle use of color to distinguish Peach Blossom Spring from the outside world. A beautiful English version of a long-popular Chinese story.-John Philbrook, San Francisco Public Library
Adapted from an old Chinese tale, this picture book reaches across time and culture with a story about fragile natural beauty endangered in a busy world. No sources are given, but the tale has many common folklore motifs: a wanderer stumbles onto the idyllic secret kingdom of Peach Blossom Spring; when he returns home, he breaks his promise of secrecy; crowds follow him to invade the paradise, but neither he nor anyone else can ever find the place again. Delicate line and watercolor paintings in soft, misty colors depict the tranquil remote kingdom in contrast with the bustle and noise of people rushing to take it over and spoil it with all their paraphernalia. There's no overt message, but kids will recognize how "discovery" can destroy what is elusive and different.