cover image In the Moonlight Mist: A Korean Tale

In the Moonlight Mist: A Korean Tale

Daniel San Souci. Boyds Mills Press, $16.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-1-56397-754-1

Strains of the selkie myths play through San Souci's (Ice Bear and Little Fox) haunting retelling of a Korean folktale. When a woodcutter saves a deer's life, the creature grants the man's wish for a wife: at the next full moon, five maidens descend from heaven to bathe in a lake and he takes one woman's robe; she then becomes earthbound and weds him. But after the woodcutter's wife bears a daughter, she becomes homesick and the man fails to heed the deer's warning that he must not return her robe until their second child is born. Neilan, in her first book for children, creates a mystical aura for the magical lake and woodlands with thick, upward-swirling brushstrokes that meld heaven and earth into a single realm. By contrast, in a portrait of the transplanted woman looking skyward to her home, the brushwork creates concentric circles that seem to emanate from her heart. In the closing painting of the family reunited among the clouds, the characters don't possess the strength and definition of the earlier illustrations. Still, Neilan's images--of the enchanted woodland, the maiden's ascent to the heavens with her babe in arms and of the woodcutter astride a magnificent winged dragon en route to join them--evince a power readers will long remember. All ages. (Feb.)