cover image I, DOKO: The Tale of a Basket

I, DOKO: The Tale of a Basket

Ed Young, . . Philomel, $16.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-399-23625-9

Young's (Lon Po Po ) mixed-media artwork is stunning in this exquisitely designed book, but the often confusing, moralistic adaptation of a Nepalese folktale may be too inaccessible for some readers. As the ending suggests, the book tells how "Wangal's love and respect for his grandfather inspired and transformed the whole village in how to treat elders." Unfortunately, the story is told somewhat awkwardly in first-person by the family's large basket, Doko (which means "basket" in Nepalese). Doko witnesses the events and features prominently in the story's resolution, but the basket acting as narrator serves to distance readers from the characters and makes for some clunky explanations. When the aged grandfather, Yeh-yeh, becomes a nuisance by inadvertently setting the house afire, Wangal's parents decide to leave the man on the temple steps for the priests to tend. Like an amateur thespian, Doko asks readers, "What could I, a basket, do!" As his father carries Yeh-yeh away in the basket, young Wangal exposes his father's cruelty with his cathartic request: he asks his father to make sure he brings Doko back, because then he "won't need to buy another Doko when you are old and it is time to leave you on the temple steps." Accompanied by artistically sophisticated and emotionally powerful illustrations, the brief text mostly serves to summarize the story, and devotes little room to the relationships between characters. Despite the uplifting message and gilt-edged pages framing dramatically appealing artwork, this intergenerational story ultimately disappoints. Ages 4-up. (Nov.)