Good things often come in small packages, according to this Japanese folktale. As the answer to his childless parents' prayers, Isson Bishou--``Little Fingerling''--is born. Although by 15 he is only ``the height of his father's longest finger,'' the determined teen leaves his family's farm to seek his fortune in Kyoto. After a brief stint as a comb painter, Isson Bishou is welcomed into the home of a nobleman where he becomes enamoured of the beautiful Plum Blossom. The young woman recognizes a brave warrior trapped in the small body and the couple eventually becomes a perfect fit when they defeat two monsters and obtain a wish-granting mallet. With a nod to the Oriental flair for economy Hughes's phrasing and sentence structure create an air of formality from simple vocabulary. The plot's grand scope, however, detracts from the drama and prevents the reader from becoming more emotionally involved. Clark's pencil and watercolor illustrations are reminiscent of Japanese woodcuts, though her human figures are more animated. The white-capped river waves, thatched roof huts and richly hued kimonos all help to define an Eastern-flavored slice of time and place. Ages 5-8. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 08/03/1992 Release date: 08/01/1992 Genre: Nonfiction
During the Covid-19 crisis, Publishers Weekly is providing free digital access to our magazine, archive, and website. To receive the access to the latest issue delivered to your inbox free each week, enter your email below.