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Both text and art are elegantly spare in Young's (Lon Po Po) newest retelling of a Chinese folktale, which may be among the Caldecott Medalist's finest works. Sai, introduced as a wise man, loses his horse; when people arrive to comfort him, he tells them, "You know, it may not be such a bad thing." It proves, in fact, to be fortunate: the horse returns with a mare. Sai rejects his friends' congratulations ("Perhaps it is not such a good thing"), and he is right again (the mare throws Sai's son). This pattern continues, and by the end, Sai's son, like his father, "trust[s] in the ever changing fortunes of life." It's a relatively metaphysical lesson for a picture book, but Young's restrained and even suspenseful telling brings the message home warmly and appealingly. The illustrationsAsubtle collages with pastels and watercolorA eschew Young's often characteristic abstractions in favour of a delicate, slightly flattened style, reminiscent of traditional Chinese painting. Tranquil scenes of Sai's exchanges with his neighbours alternate with dramatic spreads (e.g., the dappled horse rearing, a lightning bolt in the sky behind it). As a bonus, three laminated, jointed paper figures of Sai, his son and the horse are tucked into a plastic sleeve on the back jacket. An author's note exhorts readers to use these figures to "extend the story beyond the limits of these pages." No doubt they will. Ages 5-8.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
ED YOUNG is the renowned author-illustrator of more than fifty books for children, including the Caldecott Medal-winning Lon Po Po: A Red-Riding Hood Story from China and the Caldecott Honor book Seven Blind Mice. He lives in New York.
[star]"May be among the Caldecott Medalist's finest works."--Publishers Weekly (starred review) [star]"A wonderful elaboration on an ancient Chinese proverb."--School Library Journal (starred review) "Wonderfully theatrical . . . Will lead children . . . to discover the unexpected turnabouts in the sad and happy events of their own lives."--Booklist