cover image Ling-Li and the Phoenix Fairy: A Chinese Folktale

Ling-Li and the Phoenix Fairy: A Chinese Folktale

Ellin Greene. Clarion Books, $14.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-395-71528-4

Greene offers a formal retelling of a sometimes cryptic Chinese folktale. Ling-Li, a virtuous, penniless young woman, painstakingly weaves and embroiders a robe to wear at her wedding. Her vain and wealthy neighbor Golden Flower so covets the robe that she offers to give Ling-Li 10 satin robes and six brocaded jackets in exchange. When Ling-Li refuses, Golden Flower snatches the robe, then tosses it aside, whereupon it is whisked away by a flock of magpies. Ever resourceful, Ling-Li tracks the robe to a mountain peak, where the Phoenix Fairy returns the garment. Sadly, the bride is not to have her vestment, which is destroyed in Golden Flower's final attempt to steal it. The hopeful conclusion, in which the scraps of robe become flowers in Ling-li's garden, may be too abstract for this audience. First-time illustrator Wang's acrylic paintings feature a variegated palette that mingles soothing pastels and bold, warm tones. Particularly striking are his textured, impressionistic renderings of the Chinese countryside. Ages 5-8. (Feb.)