Mouse Match: A Chinese Folktale

Ed Young, Author Houghton Mifflin Harcourt P $20 (52p) ISBN 978-0-15-201453-7
In this felicitous picture book, Caldecott Medalist Young uses a Chinese variant of the Mouse Bride folktale as a metaphor for the difference between ""looking"" that notices only the appearance of strength, and ""seeing"" that recognizes real power. In his search for the greatest suitor for his daughter, Papa mouse seeks out, in turn, the sun, cloud, wind and mountain wall, only to discover that ""it is the mice who are as powerful as any in the world."" The simply told tale leads readers gently towards its logical yet wise conclusion: ""From that day on when they had a question, [the mouse bride and groom] knew that to find an answer they had not only to look--but also to see."" But the story itself plays second fiddle to Young's unusual format and dazzling artwork. The English version of the text is illustrated with a pastiche of glorious collage, pastels and watercolors (e.g., the wind is ingeniously rendered in billows of translucent pink paper, while the brown watercolors painted upon it visually connect it to the cloud preceding), while on the reverse side, the accordion-folded, artboard b&w pages contain the Chinese translation. Papa mouse's lively, black silhouette journeys up to the yellow-rose sun, down to the brown mouse holes in the mountain and returns to rejoice with his wife under crepe-paper colored flowers that presage the wedding feast. When the book is unfolded, Young's brilliant design is revealed: each individual double-page spread is artfully woven into the pattern of a single unified image--a treat for those who know how to see. Ages 3-8. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 09/29/1997
Release date: 10/01/1997
Genre: Children's
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