The Seven Gods of Luck

David Kudler, Author, Linda Finch, Illustrator Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH) $15 (32p) ISBN 978-0-395-78830-1
Kudler's first children's book offers a rather thin retelling of a Japanese folktale centering on two resourceful siblings and set on January first (the day ""everyone in Japan celebrates a birthday, no matter when they were born!""). When their mother tells Sachiko and Kenji that she has no money for the holiday feast, the children try to sell homemade hair pins and hand-painted chopsticks to get money for the meal. The two find no customers, but trade their wares for straw hats they then place on statues of the Seven Gods of Luck to shield them from the snow. Predictably, the stone statues come alive to bring the youngsters the makings for a celebratory feast. Although Kudler explains that the Seven Gods offer ""good fish to bring harmony, and black beans for health,"" readers may be disappointed not to learn more about the holiday and its relevant symbols. Finch's (Night Walk) two colorful market scenes add spice, but the majority of pictures are rendered in neutral grays and browns (including the double-page spread of the feast: beige-yellow ""golden bowls"" covered with the straw hats and not a hint of their contents). Except for what youngsters glean from the foreword, they will likely come away from this retelling with little understanding of the holiday or its significance for the Japanese. Ages 4-8. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 09/29/1997
Release date: 10/01/1997
Genre: Children's
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