cover image The Wise Old Woman

The Wise Old Woman

Yoshiko Uchida. Margaret K. McElderry Books, $14.95 (1pp) ISBN 978-0-689-50582-9

Extolling the wisdom of elders may sound like a bland topic, but Uchida's brisk storytelling and Springett's surprising, Japanese-woodblock-meets-superhero illustration style edge this Japanese folktale with suspense. ""`Anyone over seventy is no longer useful,' the lord declared, `and must be taken into the mountains and left to die.'"" Defying this harsh proclamation, a farmer keeps his aged mother in hiding for two years. When a nearby ruler threatens to conquer the village unless the local lord can perform three seemingly impossible tasks, only the farmer's mother succeeds in solving the puzzles. From now on, the lord declares, elders ``will be treated with respect and honor, and will share with us the wisdom of their years.'' What's not for a parent to love here? And the clever solutions to the three tasks, plus the familiar visual cues of good-versus-evil, should gratify the younger generation, too. Ages 5-9. (Oct.)