Books by Clarissa Yu Shen

THE CLAY GENERAL by Kim Xiong
by Kim Xiong, illustrated by Kim Xiong, translated by Clarissa Yu Shen
CHILDREN'S
Released: July 1, 2009

Leading an artistic workshop in China, two brothers, an illustrator and a storyteller have worked with their co-artists and their translator to create books to bring Chinese folklore and arts to English-speaking countries. More sophisticated than their earlier government-sponsored didactic counterparts from the 1960s and '70s, these books (see also The Dragon Tribe, 2009) have an original graphic look that is sometimes at odds with their easy texts. In this minor story, the brave Clay General is a small ceramic toy who avoids the hot kiln where he is made, only to turn back into a lump of formless clay when water accidentally touches him in a home where his child-owner is never seen. The mixed-media illustrations with photographic elements are striking, but at times unclear, and they do not always support the General's blustery narration. At the end of each book, the story appears in Chinese simplified characters and in transliteration with small copies of the illustrations alongside the appropriate text. In future volumes, the Chinese should be placed on the relevant pages to facilitate bilingual use. (Picture book. 4-7)Read full book review >
THE DRAGON TRIBE by Kim Xiong
by Kim Xiong, illustrated by Kim Xiong, translated by Clarissa Yu Shen
CHILDREN'S
Released: July 1, 2009

Taking themes from traditional tales, this original story tells of an ancient group that evolves from being Dragon Slayers to the "Dragon Tribe" (a name that has sometimes been used for the Central Chinese people who lived near the Yellow River). The text is in unembellished and somewhat stiff English and tells of the time when dragons disappeared, making it impossible for the children of the Dragon Slayers to become proper adults with the killing of their first dragon. In order to pass on their cultural heritage, the adults create art and literature that contains beautiful imagery of the fantastic animals, and the children change from thinking of dragons as enemies, instead seeing them as benevolent creatures to revere. The illustrations accompanying this slight pourquoi tale are accomplished, blending European Renaissance-textured richness with some Asian details, but the colors are so somber—blacks, grays, brownish-red robes—that they may not appeal to very young readers. Although the pedigree of the artistic team brings authenticity, they may not yet have the knack of creating books for the U.S. picture-book market. (Picture book. 6-8)Read full book review >