This zesty retelling of a Shantung folktale is as expertly executed as Yep's (Tree of Dreams) previous picture books. When a beggar asks a selfish old woman for a bite of her bean curd, she replies, ``I'm a tiger when I'm famished./ So begone, old beggar, vanish!'' (All the dialogue here is rendered in rhyme.) In return, the beggar casts a spell to ``be what you say you are,'' and the old woman indeed turns into a tiger. Chased by soldiers, the tiger woman snatches others' food as she misspeaks herself into an ox, a bird, an elephant and, finally, a sow. On the verge of becoming a pork roast, she repents and turns into a human who shares her food: ``In kindness I've become a believer,/ since I faced the wrong end of the cleaver.'' This romp gathers even more energy from Roth's (Pearl Moscowitz's Last Stand) chaotic, paint-speckled watercolors. Full of color and motion, Roth's illustrations partner Yep's spirited storytelling for a rollicking good read. Ages 5-8. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 07/31/1995 Release date: 08/01/1995 Genre: Children's
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