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The Warlord's Fish

The Warlord's Fish

by Virginia Pilegard, Nicolas Debon (Illustrator)

One day when the warlord is away, traders come and take Chuan from the palace, only to become lost in the desert. Chuan's carved wooden fish works as a compass and saves the day.


One day when the warlord is away, traders come and take Chuan from the palace, only to become lost in the desert. Chuan's carved wooden fish works as a compass and saves the day.

Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 2-When a Chinese sculptor and his apprentice, Chuan, are captured by foreign traders, they find themselves lost in the desert far beyond their civilized world. Dust storms cause the caravan to lose its way. With the sun obscured, all are stranded with no means of escape until Chuan pulls a carved fish from his pocket. Embedded with a magnet formed from a lodestone, the fish points the way south. Luckily, his captors agree to follow his directions, and they soon arrive at an oasis. There, grateful to the artist and his apprentice, the traders free both of them. Although there are some unlikely coincidences in this narrative, the story provides an interesting introduction to the Chinese use of both the magnet and the compass as early as the third century B.C.E. Endnotes give information about these developments and offer instructions for children to create their own fish compasses from simple materials. Debon's stunning illustrations enhance the tale; the figures appear to be three-dimensional carved or Claymation characters but are, intriguingly enough, executed in pastels. With realistic landscapes, the drawings have subtle shading and engaging design, and evoke the vastness and isolation of the desert wasteland.-Laurie Edwards, West Shore School District, Camp Hill, PA Copyright 2003 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
The young artist's apprentice of Warlord's Puzzle (2000) and Warlord's Beads (2001) brings a third ancient invention to the world. Kidnapped by traders and carried far into the desert, Chuan and his master reclaim their lives and freedom by leading their captors' beleaguered caravan back to the last oasis. How? With the help of a bowl of water and a small magnetized fish Chuan had found in his master's workshop. Debon gives this fanciful "origins" tale an equally fanciful Far East setting, placing blocky, doll-like people and camels into windblown desert scenes. The plot line is more perfunctory than in previous episodes, and aside from a line about heating "loadstone," the author is vague about how compasses were made. Still, what better way to introduce them to young readers than with an adventure story--plus instructions at the end for a simple modern instrument made with Styrofoam and a paperclip? (Picture book. 6-8)

Product Details

Pelican Publishing Company, Incorporated
Publication date:
Warlord's Series
Product dimensions:
8.50(w) x 11.00(h) x (d)
Age Range:
5 - 8 Years

Meet the Author

Virginia Walton Pilegard wrote The Warlord's Puzzle as part of a teaching unit that uses informal geometry to strengthen students' visual learning abilities. Mrs. Pilegard studied elementary mathematics and completed both a B.A. and M.A. in Education. She then went on to teach elementary grades and in juvenile correction schools.

Nicolas Debon is a freelance illustrator in Versailles, France. In addition to his illustrations for the Warlordís Series , he is also the author/illustrator of several other books, including two Canadian Governor Generalís Literary Award finalists.

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