cover image Tales from the Bamboo Grove

Tales from the Bamboo Grove

Yoko Kawashima Watkins. Bradbury Press, $16 (49pp) ISBN 978-0-02-792525-8

In the foreword to this eclectic selection of Japanese folktales, the author of So Far from the Bamboo Grove reminisces about her childhood in North Korea and the importance of stories in her family--as a source of reassurance for her parents, living so far from home; and as a means of instruction, a way to pass along culture. Each of the six stories has a highly personal meaning for Watkins: when she had the measles, for example, and was feeling particularly ugly, her mother cheered her up with ``Dragon Princess, Tatsuko,'' a tale of a vain girl whose wish to be eternally beautiful was granted in an unusual way. When Watkins complained to her father about the class bully, he rallied with ``Monkey and Crab,'' a story in which a simian trickster gets his comeuppance. The stories are neatly and gracefully told, and elegantly accented with the Tseng's simple yet sophisticated black-and-white illustrations. Ages 9-16. (Aug.)