Gr 2-5-The team that created The Samurai's Daughter (Dial, 1992) turns again to Japanese legend, bringing their considerable talents to bear on a tale with a familiar folklore motif. Caught in a terrible blizzard, two woodcutters take shelter in a mountain hut. During the night, Minokichi, the younger, finds a coldly beautiful woman bending over his companion. Seeing Minokichi's terror, she says that she feels ``pity and something deeper'' for him, and spares his life, extracting his vow not to tell anyone what he has seen. As she drifts away, he sees that his friend is dead. Returning home, he tells no one of his vision until years later, when he tells his wife of his strange dreamlike experience. His broken promise brings disaster, for before his eyes, Yuki changes into the Woman of the Snow and fades into the mist. Seeking the help of the Wind God, Minokichi undertakes a dangerous journey through montains inhabited by fierce supernatural beings to win back his beloved snow wife. San Souci spins a compelling, atmospheric tale, enhanced by Johnson's equally evocative paintings. His cool, misty watercolors and textured pastels create a strong sense of the snow-filled landscape, underscoring the drama of the retelling. A fine addition to any collection.-Linda Boyles, Alachua County Library District, Gainesville, FL
Reminiscent of San Souci and Johnson's last handsome picture book "The Samurai's Daughter" , this also focuses on a beautiful, bold young woman with thick, spreading black hair. Based on a traditional Japanese legend, it has connections with stories everywhere about the hero's perilous journey to expiate his betrayal of a secret. The landscape is a desolate, wintry mountain, and Johnson's watercolors and pastels show swirling snow and wind-swept precipices. In the opening scene, "the winds howled like demons," and the young woodcutter Minokichi is saved by a mysterious, beautiful woman in white, who makes him swear he will never speak a word about her. Later, he marries a woman of grace, but when he tells her about the creature in the storm, his wife cries, "The woman you saw was I!"; because of his broken promise, she swirls away in a white mist. Then he must journey to the shrine of the Wind God on the peak of Bitter Mountain and overcome fierce monsters before he can persuade the god to make his wife mortal again. The monster figures in the storm are compelling--almost like grotesque versions of the mysterious snow wife--and story and pictures blend the human and natural worlds with beauty and fear.