Roth's (Mama Provi and the Pot of Rice) collages lend snowy radiance to this story of kindness rewarded. A tanuki ("a raccoon-dog") looks something like a badger; in Japanese stories, they often play tricks on humans. In Myers's (Basho and the Fox) version of this traditional tale, a priest gives a tanuki shelter one winter night despite the creature's shady reputation. Paper shapes scribbled with energetic ink and crayon lines represent the priest's elegant robes, radiant smile and tiny hut; ink, golden and lavender lines detail his few possessions. The interior scenes are firelit; outdoors, the snow makes everything brilliant. The two friends grow closer, and the tanuki tells the priest that he wants to give him something. The priest asks for a few gold pieces "for prayers to be said for me so I might enter Paradise after my death." Roth makes this unfamiliar thought friendly; he imagines the smiling priest carried skyward under a big paper umbrella, while tiny villagers below wave farewell. The tanuki, knowing dishonesty will offend the priest, sets off to mine and smelt the gold himself; it takes months. The priest mourns his friend; his expression turns to a frown. "Oh, little one," he says remorsefully, when the tanuki returns, "I was wrong to ask for the gold!... I have again the gift of your friendship-which is what I wanted all along." The kindly priest enchants; the tanuki, with his sincere determination and long nose sporting such inquisitive whiskers, will win readers' hearts. Ages 5-8. (Apr.)
PreS-Gr 3-An old Buddhist priest lives a solitary life until a tanuki, or raccoon dog, comes to ask for shelter during a storm. For 10 years these nightly visits continue. Finally the tanuki insists on repaying the kindness, so the priest asks for some gold to pay for prayers to be said for him so he can enter Paradise after his death. When the small creature does not return for several seasons, the man becomes worried. He realizes that the tanuki's greatest gift was that of his friendship, and is overjoyed when the animal returns. This simple tale is illustrated with ink, watercolor, and cut paper in a somewhat abstract Japanese style. Although both the story and the art are understated, the book has a strong and lasting message.-Nancy A. Gifford, Schenectady County Public Library, NY Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
An extensive author's note details the origins of this somewhat bland story of a priest who takes in a creature (Tanuki) suffering from the cold. After returning each evening for ten winters, Tanuki begs the priest to request something from him so he can repay the priest for his kindnesses. After some reluctance, the priest requests three riyo of gold-gold that would allow him to hire more prayers to be said to insure his entrance into Paradise. The next evening and many more after, Tanuki does not come back. All winter and summer and into the following winter, there is no sign of Tanuki. The priest is concerned. Finally one winter's night, Tanuki returns with the three coins he has worked to obtain during his absence. The priest cries tears of joy for Tanuki's successful return. He realizes that their friendship is the most valuable gift. Roth's collage illustrations, created with painted papers, glow in their simplicity and sunny gold palette. Shapes are simple and blockish with pen and ink details. Each illustration adds to the enjoyment of Myers's (Basho and the Fox, 2000, etc.) tale that by itself lacks the sparkle needed to make this a first purchase. However, in this case the illustrations do redeem the text and will make this a satisfying tale for most collections in need of additional selections in the genre. (Picture book/folktale. 5-8)