cover image Long-Haired Girl: A Chinese Legend

Long-Haired Girl: A Chinese Legend

Doreen Rappaport. Dial Books, $15.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-8037-1411-3

In this fine retelling of a Chinese legend, a terrible drought has come to the land near the Lei-Gong Mountains. When Ah-Mei discovers a secret spring of water as ``sweet as pear juice,'' Lei-Gong, the God of Thunder, threatens her with death if she breathes a word of her discovery to anyone. Ah-Mei withers under the burden of this knowledge, longing to tell the villagers of the water source that could save their lives. Her raven hair fades and worry ravages her beauty. Finally, the sight of a suffering old man proves more than she can bear. In dramatic detail, Rappaport (previously teamed with Yang for The Journey of Meng) describes how the girl saves the village despite the risk of death, and then receives help from the once-suffering old man to thwart the vengeful Thunder God. Vivid writing captures Ah-Mei's courage, presenting her dilemma as tangible and relevant. Woodcuts complement the prose. With bold lines set against delicate backdrops in pastel colors, the art, while pleasingly simple, conveys considerable emotion and movement. Especially noteworthy is Yang's attention to costume. Ages 4-8. (Mar.)