cover image The Fox Maiden

The Fox Maiden

Elsa Marston, Elsa Harik. Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing, $16 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-689-80107-5

Marston's (Cynthia and the Runaway Gazebo) haunting tale, inspired by Japanese folklore, gathers dramatic tension from its protagonist's dilemma. A fox who yearns to explore the human world uses a risky form of magic to turns herself into a young woman. She meets kindhearted Haruo, a servant, who helps her find work in his rich master's home,. But the ""fox maiden"" is torn between the forest and the village, and as she goes back and forth between them, her deception is finally discovered. She and Haruo aid each other in escaping the angry villagers, but the story ends with their parting and her resumption of her fox form. Kiuchi (Mysterious Tales of Japan) envelopes this eerie, deftly spun tale in hazy, serene acrylics; his quiet earth tones and blurred lines intensify the story's dreaminess. Ages 5-9. (Nov.)