cover image Wishbones: A Folk Tale from China

Wishbones: A Folk Tale from China

Barbara Ker Wilson. Bradbury Press, $14.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-02-793125-9

The canon of ethnic Cinderella stories expands yet again to include this cursory retelling of the Chinese version, featuring motherless maiden Yeh Hsien and her magic fish. Comparisons with Yeh-Shen , the richly detailed interpretation penned by Ai-Ling Louie and graced by Ed Young's ethereal pastels, however, are inevitable and unfortunate. Wilson's choppy abridgement stresses the story's barest, generic elements--stepmother, stepdaughter, lost slipper, prince--in the process sacrificing its cultural and ethnic nuances. The resulting narration is lifeless (``She went to the pond and called to the fish. The fish, believing it was Yeh Hsien standing there, leapt from the water and laid its head on the bank'') and occasionally inept (``Yeh Hsien moved the fish into the pond that lay close-by the cave''). Elements of ``The Fisherman and His Wife'' further confuse the text. So's ( The Emperor and the Nightingale ) exuberant use of color is impressive, although her busy scenes and slightly skewed proportions lend the tale an incongruous air of humor. Ages 3-7. (Sept.)