The Cricket's Cage: A Chinese Folk Tale

Stefan Czernecki, Author Hyperion Books $14.95 (32p) ISBN 978-0-7868-0296-8
Graciously setting the scene for his concise retelling of a dramatic legend, Czernecki's (Zorah's Magic Carpet) arresting art imaginatively conveys the grandeur of the court of Yongle, the third emperor of the Ming dynasty. Intriguingly, the artist has used Chinese mineral and vegetable pigments and has combined painting techniques traditional to that country to create richly toned, authentic-looking scenarios. These he sets against a glowing, golden pattern featuring a sequence of dragons encircled in decorative rings. The intricate backdrop, as a note explains, represents the embroidery found on robes that might have been worn by Yongle; the pattern strikingly contrasts with the spare compositions and deeper hues of the interior panels. In the story, the emperor renovates the Forbidden City, and insists that the complex include four magnificent towers. When none of the architectural plans submitted pleases the arrogant leader, his deferential prime minister, master builder and carpenter all fear their heads will roll--but a cricket's magic saves the day. Throughout, the visual rhythms propel the reader: sometimes text faces illustrative panels, and sometimes both pages of the spread feature only art or design elements (e.g., a poem reproduced in Chinese characters). A memorable and ambient offering. Ages 4-7. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 03/03/1997
Release date: 03/01/1997
Genre: Children's
Hardcover - 32 pages - 978-1-895340-14-3
Hardcover - 32 pages - 978-0-7868-2234-8
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