cover image Lily and the Wooden Bowl

Lily and the Wooden Bowl

Alan Schroeder. Doubleday Books for Young Readers, $14.95 (1pp) ISBN 978-0-385-30792-5

This traditional Japanese folktale light-handedly reinforces the cultural ideal of respecting the wisdom of one's elders. On her deathbed, Aya contrives to protect her granddaughter, Lily, from worldly men (``I fear they will spoil your innocence'') by extracting her promise to wear a wooden bowl on her head-always-in order to hide her prodigal beauty. Kumaso, a wealthy farmer's son, falls in love with Lily despite her odd headgear, but his wicked mother, Matsu, forbids their marriage unless Lily can make rice for 100 guests from one grain of rice. Lily's store of magical heirlooms goes head-to-head with Matsu's own sorcery, but Kumaso's devotion to Lily tips the scales. The moment they marry, Lily's bowl falls away, showering jewels on the couple-a fitting reward for their mutual obedience to Aya's last request. Schroeder's quietly expressive language and Ito's polished homage to Japanese motifs result in their own shower of visual and verbal pleasures. Ages 6-10. (Oct.)