Long, long ago, in a small town in ancient China, there lived an honest and respectful man called Tuan. Tuan was lonely and looked hard for a wife, but even the matchmaker couldn't help him. One night, however, Tuan's luck changed. And so begins the story of Tuan, White Wave, and the Dinner that Cooked Itself. This beautiful and enchanting Chinese fairytale will captivate the imagination with the perfect blend of magic and realism!
Hsyu's retelling has a folkloric simplicity, planting just enough details to ground readers in the traditional tale. Pak's mixed-media illustrations evoke a misty, long-ago agrarian China, his expressive, angular faces contrasting pleasingly with fluid, lovingly created backdrops. [...] A breath of fresh air in its beauty and simplicity.
Hsyu debuts with a fine retelling of a Chinese folktale about a hardworking bachelor whose kindness is rewarded. Orphaned as a child, Tuan has been raised by an elderly neighbor, Old Lin; when the time comes for Tuan to marry, Old Lin hires a matchmaker. The three women proposed by the matchmaker don't work out for various reasons--the birth years and names of the first two women clash with Tuan's own, while his poverty means that the third woman's parents won't give her away. Tuan's luck improves after he discovers a large snail in his field, brings it home, and feeds it. Suddenly, delicious dinners are awaiting him every night--"little fried balls of pork, a plump chicken stewed with plums." After some investigation, Tuan learns the mystery cook is a beautiful fairy sent to watch over him by the Lord of Heaven. Working in a pale, muted palette, Pak (Have You Heard the Nesting Bird?) contributes airy, rough-textured compositions that evoke both contemporary animation and ancient, weathered frescoes as the story takes a serpentine path to a happy ending. Ages 3-7. Illustrator's agent: Kirsten Hall, Catbird Agency. (Nov.)Copyright 2014 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.
Gr 1-3--Hsyu and Pak have revived a Chinese folktale, keeping the flavor of ancient China while making the story appealing to a modern audience. The mixed-media illustrations are done in the style of traditional Chinese art and include Chinese characters for several key words. The well-written story offers a familiar lesson on the value of hard work and thoughtfulness. The idea of finding a match based on birth year and name may be unusual to readers but will offer a starting point for talking about Chinese culture. VERDICT A solid choice for multicultural folktale collections.--Laura Stanfield, Campbell County Public Library, Ft. Thomas, KYCopyright 2015 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.