Reprinted with permission from Asian Review of Books. For more reviews from this source, click here.
Shiho S. Nunes, illustrated by Lak-Khee Tay-Audouard,
Chinese Fables: ‘The Dragon Slayer’ and Other Timeless Tales of Wisdom
Tuttle Publishing, 2013.
Reviewed by Karmel Schreyer
1 June 2013 — When there is so little on the television, in film and in popular music to assist parents with the task of teaching their children values education these days, it is good to know that we can still turn to books. Fables, fairy stories, and other “cautionary tales” have of course served that purpose well over the generations: Tortoise and the Hare, The Greedy Dog, The Gingerbread Man… we remember them well, and as parents we can tell many of these stories, as well as their underlying second (moral) meanings, to our children without the help of a picture book.
Still, a pretty picture book is a nice thing to have when you are snuggled in bed, shoulder to shoulder. Because, as any multi-tasking mum will know, why stop with just entertainment and values education at bedtime when you can also use the opportunity to get a bit of reading / learning in—or art appreciation! And here’s where Shiho S. Nunes’ book comes in.
If you are more than familiar with the offerings of Aesop and Grimm, then you will enjoy the chance to add to your repertoire with this assortment of stories of Oriental wisdom. The 19 stories in this lovely hardbound, four-color illustrated book are a fresh take on some age-old ideas. The level of writing is quite sophisticated, and the wording concise, a good choice if you are wishing to advance your child’s word power. Also, these stories are not drawn out—all the stories are only from one to three pages in length—which makes it a perfect collection for sleepy kids, or for young children with short attention spans.
You will notice a lot of overlap with some of your own favorite fables—and even some new, and very famous, modern stories. My own favorite in this collection might be “The King of Beasts”—about a fox caught by a hungry lion. The sly fox convinces the lion to let him go, so he can prove to the dubious lion that he is the most feared animal in the forest. The lion agrees to follow the fox through the forest, and is gobsmacked when every one of the forest creatures scurries away from the fox in fear, just as the sly animal had predicted. “Astounding!…” said the…
Part of the fun of this book may also be in figuring out where we’ve heard this before.
Karmel Schreyer is the author of Empress Emi-poo: A story about learning to love your potty, and Empress Blaze Moon: A Story about never giving up.
© 2013 The Asian Review of Books.
Lak-Khee Tay-Audouard is currently featured in our Illustrators Gallery. Click here to read our interview with her and see a gallery of her work.