cover image WAN Hu is in the Stars

WAN Hu is in the Stars

Jennifer Armstrong. HarperCollins Publishers, $15 (1pp) ISBN 978-0-688-12457-1

Just as she did in her acclaimed Chin Yu Min and the Ginger Cat, Armstrong uses simple, elegant prose to conjure up the mystical beauty of Chinese folklore. Wan Hu, the hero of this original tale, suffers from classic poet's distraction, endlessly musing about the stars, unaware that he is wearing only one shoe or sporting a rice pot instead of a hat. While the rest of the villagers scoff at the poet's ``foolish dreams,'' the kindly gardener listens to Wan Hu's ambitions of traveling to the heavens to be among the stars. First Wan Hu climbs the highest mountain, then he harnesses a flock of geese so that they might lift him up into the sky. Finally, inspired by a fireworks display, Wan Hu builds himself a contraption that catapults him into the air and out of sight. Root's (Two Cool Cats, reviewed above) full-bleed gouaches perfectly complements the gentle buoyancy of the narrative. Muted purples, oranges and greens capture the charm of the Chinese landscape, and the final spread depicting the lotus flower of Wan Hu's robe among the constellations in the night sky will inspire a host of believers. Ages 5-up. (May)