cover image Tongues of Jade

Tongues of Jade

Laurence Yep. HarperCollins Publishers, $14.95 (194pp) ISBN 978-0-06-022470-7

Noted children's author Yep ( The Rainbow People ; The Star Fisher ) scrupulously culls numerous early Chinese American tales, most of them collected as part of a 1930s WPA project in Oakland's Chinatown, and gracefully retells them, weaving everything together with perceptive commentary on the stories' origins and intents. Many of the virtues and morals espoused are from familiar folktale territory--the importance of respect for parents (``The Little Emperor'') and of kindness to others (``Waters of Gold'') and the pitfalls of greed (``The Rat in the Wall''). The stories are liberally dosed with magic, and all praise the qualities--patience and diligence, for example--necessary to succeed in a foreign and often hostile land. Kudos to Yep for preserving and interpreting these important historical links in the Chinese American experience. Illustrations not seen by PW . Ages 8-12. (Oct.)