The Rabbit's Judgement

Suzanne Crowder Han, Author, Yumi Heo, Illustrator Henry Holt & Company $15.95 (1p) ISBN 978-0-8050-2674-0
Based on a Korean tale, this striking work, a picture book debut for author and artist, questions the thorny nature of justice. When a man agrees to rescue a tiger from a deep pit, he exacts a promise that the starving beast will not eat him. On gaining his freedom, however, the tiger is overwhelmed by hunger and forgets to be grateful. An ox and a pine tree are called upon to arbitrate, and soon it becomes clear that man as a species is not very popular (`` `What do men know about gratefulness?' said the pine tree. ` . . . It takes us years to grow big but when we do you cut us down' ''). At last a clever--and sympathetic--rabbit chances by. The text, rendered in deadpan prose and in Korean characters, highlights amusingly eloquent interchanges, while arrestingly skewed illustrations in a rich, natural palette illuminate the story's childlike wisdom. A sophisticated mix of oils, pencils and collage, Heo's outstanding art mingles fresh naivete with subtle folksiness. Each spread teems with insect- and bird-life, small figures filled with the graceful nobility of symbols. Her tiger, for all his greed, has child-appeal; he is a combination of the Cheshire Cat, a Lane Smith beastie with a touch of Chagall thrown in. Ages 5-8. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 02/28/1994
Release date: 03/01/1994
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