Books by Ed Young

Released: Sept. 24, 2019

"A well-intended, unusual, but not entirely successful story bringing sea creatures into focus. (Picture book. 4-9)"
A lost Siamese cat learns about life on an ocean beach and in a tide pool. Read full book review >
SMILE by Gary Golio
Released: March 26, 2019

"Readers who watch him waddle their way and extend a wave are certain to return his timeless greeting. (Picture book/biography. 6-12) "
Children meet Chaplin in this intimate biography of the iconic silent-film comedian, whose movies, humor, and story grow ever more distant to each generation of readers. Read full book review >
YUGEN by Mark Reibstein
by Mark Reibstein, illustrated by Ed Young
Released: Sept. 25, 2018

"Beauty is ever present in this book, amid loss and mystery. (Picture book. 6-12)"
Step into a dream of a story by the team that created Wabi Sabi (2008). Read full book review >
Released: Aug. 1, 2017

"Stunning illustrations and authentic words grace this unusually sophisticated picture book. (Picture book. 5-10)"
Following Nighttime Ninja (2012), Young and DaCosta collaborate once again, this time infusing the sense and spirit of Moby-Dick (with a twist) into a picture book. Read full book review >
Released: Nov. 15, 2016

"Young is at the height of his powers in this fable that offers a feast for the eyes, mind, and soul. A visual masterpiece. (Picture book. 4-8)"
A wealthy lord has everything, yet it's never enough until deprivation teaches him life's true riches. Read full book review >
Released: April 14, 2015

"Mystifying and ultimately uplifting, this book challenges all of us to seek out the dizzying scope of love. (Picture book. 10 & up)"
Startling collages of torn photos, cut paper and calligraphy seek to describe love's many forms and feelings through comparisons found in nature. Read full book review >
BIRD & DIZ by Gary Golio
by Gary Golio, illustrated by Ed Young
Released: March 1, 2015

"Exuberant and gorgeous—like the music. (afterword, suggested recordings) (Picture book. 4-8)"
The innovative collaboration between jazz trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie and saxophonist Charlie "Bird" Parker is celebrated within a double-sided, accordion-fold format. Read full book review >
NIGHTTIME NINJA by Barbara DaCosta
Released: Sept. 18, 2012

"This relatively gentle tale celebrating the power of imagination fails to cover new territory but is executed quite well. Good to share at bedtime with antsy adventurers but too subdued a choice for die-hard Ninjago fans. (Picture book. 3-5)"
Debut picture-book author DaCosta pens the quietly suspenseful quest of a ninja on a late-night mission…to the kitchen! Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 1, 2012

"A felicitous pairing of two children's literature pros to encourage our sense of wonder. (Picture book/poetry. 5-12)"
Poems in varied forms urge readers to marvel at animals living in surprising environments. Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 11, 2011

"A touching, singular story of a painting elephant and the boy he lovingly fosters. (Fiction. 6-12)"
A little boy and a nurturing elephant embark on a memorable search and find adventure, fame and the meaning of home. Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 3, 2011

"Sophisticated, inventive art invites close viewings for patient readers in this unusual family story. (foreword, time line, author's note) (Picture book/memoir. 7-12) "
Flashes of multi-media brilliance illuminate this darkly colored, leisurely paced memoir of childhood in Shanghai. Read full book review >
MOON BEAR by Brenda Z. Guiberson
Released: May 11, 2010

With a series of questions and haiku-like answers, Guiberson (Ice Bears, 2008) introduces young readers and listeners to bears from a far-off place. "Who plucks raspberries / and plops red scat in the tangle? Blissful moon bear, / feasting on juicy summer fruit." While much of her alliterative text focuses on the Asian Moon Bear's varied diet, the narrative covers a year in which one bear emerges in spring, forages uphill and down and hibernates again, producing cubs. Collages of textured papers, parts of photographs and varied backgrounds form the stylized illustrations. Some of the bear's white neck stripes form human silhouettes, and Young uses bear silhouettes in his endpapers. Though the art is impressive, some images are confusing, distracting from rather than supporting the text. A two-page author's note doesn't mention the bile industry directly but describes bears in cages and shows photographs of rescued bears happily playing at the Animals Asia Moon Bear Rescue Center in China. A website is included but not sources or additional information. Tempting but not nutritious. (Informational picture book. 4-7)Read full book review >
HOOK by Ed Young
Kirkus Star
by Ed Young, illustrated by Ed Young
Released: May 1, 2009

An unusual bird soars through striking art and powerful imagery. A boy gives a forsaken egg to a nearby hen, who gladly mothers her fosterling. When hatched, the bird's hooked beak inspires his name, and his matted feathers and outstretched claws display his youthful strength. Although numerous flying attempts prove futile, the mighty bird eventually spreads his wings in a glorious double-page spread, "for he was not meant for earth." Pacing builds through each page turn, taut phrases increasing intensity. "He pushes off, but falls to earth…. / An even higher place. / Another try. / Another fall." The prevalent red-dirt background conveys the richness of the natural world and the warmth of both the Pueblo setting and Hook's adoptive family. Vibrant, minimal chalk drawings—hardly more than sketches, but glorious ones—utilize shifting perspectives to enhance the sky's imposing vastness. Blue light transcends as the bird struggles for flight, finally soaring against the magnificent canyon. The child's face is often hidden from view, with the focus on the birds' transformative expressions. Arresting and absorbing, this tale soars. (Picture book. 4-8) Read full book review >
TSUNAMI! by Kimiko Kajikawa
Kirkus Star
by Kimiko Kajikawa, illustrated by Ed Young
Released: Jan. 1, 2009

Through quick thinking and personal sacrifice, a wise old Japanese farmer saves the people of his village from a devastating tsunami in this simple yet striking story based on Lafcadio Hearn's "A Living God." Ojiisan lives in a cottage on a mountain overlooking the village and sea. One day, villagers gather to celebrate the rice harvest, but Ojiisan stays home thinking "something does not feel right." When the earth quakes and the sea darkens and runs away from the land, Ojiisan realizes a tsunami approaches. Fearing the oblivious villagers will be swept away, Ojiisan torches his rice fields to attract attention, and they respond, barely escaping the monster wave. Rendered in gouache, pastel and collage, Young's illustrations cleverly combine natural textures, bold colors and abstract shapes to convey compelling images of chaos and disaster as the rice fields burn and the wave rushes in. In one literally breathtaking double-page spread, an enormous wall of water engulfs the teeny seacoast village. A visually powerful and dramatic tribute to one man's willingness to sacrifice everything for others. (Picture book. 3-5)Read full book review >
WABI SABI by Mark Reibstein
Kirkus Star
by Mark Reibstein, illustrated by Ed Young
Released: Oct. 1, 2008

The Japanese concept of wabi sabi, or the art of finding "beauty and harmony in what is simple," is explored textually and visually in this story of a Japanese cat named Wabi Sabi who wonders what her name means when a visitor asks her mistress. "That's hard to explain," her mistress replies, initiating Wabi Sabi's quest to find a definition. Her feline pal Snowball tells Wabi Sabi her name refers to "a kind of beauty," while Rascal the dog hints it has something to do with the ordinary and simple. A confused Wabi Sabi journeys to the woods of Mount Hiei where the wise old monkey Kosho ceremoniously makes tea in an old wooden bowl to illustrate wabi sabi. Surrounded by nature, Wabi Sabi eventually understands that "simple things are beautiful" and returns home enlightened. Reibstein's plain yet poetic text, which deftly incorporates original and traditional Japanese haiku, works harmoniously with Young's deceptively simple, vertically oriented collages of natural and manmade materials to create their own wabi sabi. Simply beautiful. (notes, translations of Japanese haiku) (Picture book. 6-10)Read full book review >
Released: April 1, 2008

A wealthy man engages a great painter to create an image of the faithful horse that runs to him in 20 heartbeats. He waits for word that his painting is ready. Years slip by, and both man and horse grow old. Finally, livid, the man returns to demand the picture he commissioned so very long ago. And in 20 heartbeats, the artist puts brush to paper to produce a piece of genius. But "[t]he man did not look at the painting. All he could see were the years that had gone by." There are many ways to read this story: as a treatise on the nature of art and the value of product versus process; as an allegory about faith and another Great Painter; as a reminder to look beyond the obvious. These messages may elude younger readers, but no one will miss the point of Young's arresting limited-color collage work, in which dreams are veiled in a layered rice-paper mist, and texture, curve and line, along with the compelling and considered placement of pigment, guide the eye along the narrative path. (Picture book. 5-8)Read full book review >
Released: June 1, 2006

A gorgeously illustrated praise-song illuminates the yearnings and achievement of Tenzing Norgay, recently recovered from history as the Nepalese Sherpa who, along with Sir Edmund Hillary, conquered Mount Everest in 1953. Burleigh's present-tense free-verse poem strings epithets together in Homeric fashion: "Tenzing Norgay, / Sherpa, / Mountain man, / Tiger of the snows . . . " The effect is intense, the epithets giving way to clipped phrases that kaleidoscopically evoke the effort of climbing. The white-on-black text appears in appropriately vertical panels that frame Young's spectacular pastels, his fuzzy lines alternately mimicking blowing snow or the parka-clad forms of the climbers themselves. The book's landscape orientation gives breadth to the paintings, allowing a long-shot view of Everest, its bulk dwarfing the tiny smudged dots of a line of climbers in the foreground. A pre-dawn image of the last morning of the ascent places readers in a close-up behind Tenzing's goggles, looking into Hillary's uncannily lit face. The favor is returned at the top of the world, as Tenzing's smiling face gazes into Hillary's camera, the Himalayas spreading out in the background. A striking, inspiring tribute. (afterword) (Picture book/poetry. 7-10)Read full book review >
MY MEI MEI by Ed Young
Kirkus Star
by Ed Young, illustrated by Ed Young
Released: Feb. 1, 2006

Young's own daughters, successively adopted as babies in China, inspire this tender celebration of love flowering between sisters. Narrator Antonia plays at being "Jieh-Jieh"—big sister—with her parents. She wistfully befriends an invisible "Mei Mei"—a younger sister. When she is three, she and her parents fly "the friendly sky to China" to bring a baby Mei Mei home. Terse yet expressive text (rendered the more economical by voluptuous, full-bleed double spreads of collaged florals, pastel and gouache), conveys Antonia's conflicting emotions, from excitement to abandonment, protectiveness to pride. In a particularly lovely spread, Antonia confides, "I help her with reading and math so we can play more board games." Cocooned together among pillows and cats on a flowery ground evoking William Morris textiles, Mei Mei listens as Antonia reads what's clearly a copy of Leo Lionni's Little Blue and Little Yellow. With Antonia garbed in yellow and Mei Mei, bright blue, the composition perfectly evokes the girls' symbiosis. By the close, of course, exhibiting the collusive, boundary-pushing exuberance of young siblings, the girls sweetly ask, "Can we have another Mei Mei?" (author's note) (Picture book. 4-7)Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 1, 2005

It's uncanny how much handmade paper, torn and painted just the right way, can resemble clouds, or how its texture mimics a craggy mountainside. Here, Shanghai-born Caldecott-artist Young creates a meditative "visual poem" about China with Matisse-inspired collage-paper illustrations in an unusual format that opens vertically with "stepped" pages. The poem itself ("Beyond the great mountains, / Far to the east, a vast fertile plain. / In its sky, mist rose and fell, rain water gathering, river cascading / Down cliffs and boulders, through valleys into fields") evokes an ancient time of earth's abundance, identified as "Middle Empire, China." While honoring his homeland in words and images, Young introduces 24 basic Chinese characters (the 2500-year-old seal-style) as visual puzzles that are echoed in his illustrations. Readers of any age discovering that a written language is picture-based (that the "river" character is three wavy lines, for example) will be fascinated, but it may well be adults who are most enamored by this lovely tribute to "the hidden wisdom of symbols." (author's note, chart of Chinese characters "then and now") (Picture book. 6-10)Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 1, 2005

Half-Chinese Xiao Mei (May in English) is 11, going alone from Ohio to visit her extended family in Shanghai. In vivid poems, almost iridescent in their clarity of feeling, May wonders if people in China will stare at her green-flecked eyes; sees what her great-grandfather carved in stone in Suzhou Gardens; buys a live duck for lunch in the marketplace. The fear of being so far from the familiar and the ache of a loving but very different set of relatives are exquisitely delineated, no more so than in Young's beautiful illustrations. Each page is laid out with borders and centerpieces of a red Chinese grillwork pattern in perfect geometry; while soft-edged, brilliantly colored vignettes of May learning t'ai chi, riding on a moped to take laundry to dry, playing catch with a child and a red ball, illuminate every page. Some images catch at the heart—Auntie unwrapping a wonton to tuck the last speck of pork in before cooking, or May back in Ohio missing the shouting farmers outside her window in Shanghai. Wonderfully evocative. (Fiction/poetry. 8-14)Read full book review >
I, DOKO by Ed Young
Released: Nov. 1, 2004

The epigraph from Kung Fu Tze—"What one wishes not upon oneself, one burdens not upon another"—aptly summarizes this simple parable set in Nepal. Doko, the teller, is a large basket that has carried a baby, kindling wood, a dowry, and a body to a grave, but grieves when the feeble grandfather is to be carried away to be abandoned on the temple steps. Perhaps inspired by the stories his grandfather has told him, the young grandson stops his father by reminding him to bring back the basket, so he won't have to buy another, "when you are old and it is time to leave you on the temple steps." The father's weeping eyes, his son reflected in his pupils, is manga-like in intensity. The dynamic, jewel-toned pastel, collage and gouache illustrations, bordered and flecked with gold give dignity, richness and power to a traditional Asian tale that embodies both the Golden Rule and respect for the elderly. (Picture book. 5-8)Read full book review >
Released: May 1, 2004

The illustrations outshine the story in this traditional Chinese tale of how the Dragon King helps each of his nine sons find a way to exploit his personal attributes to the overall benefit of the people. The wise Dragon King recognizes that, while undisciplined indulgence is destructive, each son can use his individual talent for good; thus the strong one holds up roofs, the loud one aids musicians, the swimmer protects travelers by water, and so on. Young depicts each son in an expressive ink wash, the loose brushstrokes full of movement and humor. Against these paintings, he renders the iconographic devices used in Chinese art and architecture in delicately cut inked paper set against an off-white fabric background. As an exploration of the intersection of art and legend, it is perfectly lovely. As a story, however, it leaves rather a lot to be desired, devolving into a recitation of each son's talent—and there are nine of them, remember—and its use rather than describing a satisfying narrative arc. Terrific in conjunction with an art program—less successful as a story on its own. (author's note) (Picture book/folklore. 6-10)Read full book review >
TAI CHI MORNING by Nikki Grimes
Released: Jan. 1, 2004

In 1988, poet Grimes was part of an artists' tour of China, performing, reading, traveling, and teaching. Young, whose family comes from China, always sketches what he sees when he returns to visit. Grimes constructs a travelogue of small poems, each with an introduction accompanied by her tourist photos. Young's lively and evocative black-and-white drawings, which are from the same time period—just before Tiananmen Square—are well-matched with the verse, some rhymed, some not. What could have been a mishmash turns out pretty well, as Grimes writes about her homesick longing for ice cream: "Sweet Deal," her inability to consume scorpion sauté in "Dinner Guest" and wonderful sights, like the Great Wall and the Yellow Mountains. While it might be hard to find an audience for this, it opens up possibilities for history, culture, and poetry classes for middle grades. (Poetry/travel. 8-12)Read full book review >
WHAT ABOUT ME? by Ed Young
by Ed Young, illustrated by Ed Young
Released: June 1, 2001

This ancient Sufi tale, with beautiful new collage-and-watercolor illustrations, follows a familiar narrative structure. A boy appeals to a Grand Master for knowledge, but the Grand Master demands a carpet first, so off goes the boy to the carpetmaker—who wants thread; the spinner won't make thread until she is given goat hair; and so on. Finally, when his pursuits lead only to a woman seeking knowledge, the boy despairs and wanders away. In a new village, after a subtle narrative shift in which the boy becomes "the young man," he finds a merchant who needs help. The help he offers freely then leads back to the original chain of demands: each person in the chain gets something and also provides something—wood, goats, goat hair, thread, a small carpet. A few narrative details are unfortunate: the woman who wanted knowledge is the only person who goes unfulfilled, and a girl is one of the pieces of merchandise traded—happily, but as a piece of goods. Also, the girl is confusingly white-skinned (in contrast to all the other brown-skinned Middle Eastern characters), which is disturbing since she is the only one called "beautiful." The story flows smoothly; the illustrations skillfully and delicately use scale, posture, and composition to convey despair (the boy wandering away from his village, tiny, with his head slumped) and joy (the young man leaping, a shoe flying off). Heathered paper makes an earthy background for these expertly designed, uncluttered pages. (source note) (Picture book/folktale. 4-7)Read full book review >
Kirkus Star
by Ed Young, illustrated by Ed Young
Released: March 31, 2001

Using a combination of handmade and bought papers, Young has created a dazzling collage adaptation of the traditional Chinese legend of the Monkey King. Brilliant shades of pink, purple, red, orange, gold, and green are offset by wispy whites and stark blacks on warm earth-toned backgrounds. The colors often leap and swirl across the pages, tracing the trajectories of Monkey's energetic somersaults and mirroring his irrepressible personality. Always restless and eager for new adventures, Monkey simply can't keep out of trouble. Born from an exploding rock, he fights the fierce Red Beard Bandit, steals a golden pillar from the underwater palace of the Dragon King, and gobbles up all the forbidden fruit from Jade King's immortal peach tree. The centerpiece of the book, and of Monkey's adventures, takes place on pages that fold out both horizontally and vertically as Monkey leaps to a place that he thinks is the end of the earth, but that turns out to be the upraised hand of Buddha. He scribbles, "Monkey was here," thinking he has triumphed, but in fact he is trapped. After 500 years of captivity, he is freed to have a few more adventures before the end of the book, which concludes when he learns that there is "strength in admitting to weakness." The narrator leaves the reader with a question and an answer—"Did Monkey's humility last? That's another story for another book." Young's prose is spare, and the placement of the words is brilliantly integrated into his page designs. An author's note provides information on the Chinese epic Journey to the West, from which these episodes have been adapted. There is also a list of characters with their descriptions. This visually and thematically rich creation by one of our finest picture book artists is wonderful both to read aloud and to peruse and ponder at leisure. (Picture book/folktale. All ages)Read full book review >
THE HUNTER by Mary Casanova
Released: Sept. 1, 2000

In this spare retelling of a Chinese folk tale, a hunter receives a wonderful gift that ultimately costs him his life. When Hai Li Bu rescues a small snake who turns out to be the daughter of the Dragon King of the Sea, her grateful father gives the young hunter the ability to understand the language of animals—with a warning that he will turn to stone if he ever reveals his secret. One day the animals herald the approach of a devastating storm. Hai Li Bu is unable to convince the local villagers to flee until, at last, he resolutely tells his story, turning to stone bit by bit before their horrified eyes. Against almost featureless flecked backgrounds in which warm, subtly modulated browns are the dominant colors, Young (A Pup Just For Me/A Boy Just For Me, 1999, etc.) places figures formed by strong, economically brushed outlines; their placement opens up great depth and space in each scene, and both the dragon's spiky hugeness and Hai Li Bu's quiet heroism are clear to see. A Chinese ideogram or two in the bottom corner of each spread adds a thematic caption, explained in a key. After the catastrophe, the chastened villagers return to rebuild, erect Hai Li Bu as his own monument, and forever after are careful to "listen to every person, even the youngest child." As much about the changing character of Hai Li Bu's community as about his own selflessness, this multilayered tale will leave readers moved and thoughtful. (Picture book/folk tale. 7-10)Read full book review >
DESERT SONG by Tony Johnston
Released: Sept. 1, 2000

When twilight comes to the Sonoran desert, bats fly from their cave "like dry leaves blowing, like shadows on the wing," searching for insects. Moths, ants, weevils, and beetles populate the darkness. Some night animals sing, the owl and the coyote ("Song of wonder. Song of hunger. Song of being alone"), in contrast to the silence of snakes and the whirr of the bats. The text is a song, too, singing the desert's beauty. Young's striking illustrations of pastels, collage, and textured paper show animals not mentioned in the text—javelinas and a lizard—as well as some that are: bats, owl, quail, and coyote. Oddly, the snake, though mentioned, is missing from the pictures, perhaps hidden in the sinuous moonlit ridges of sand. When "morning blooms" the "night things / slip into the cool / of desert hiding places," and the bats fly home until "twilight comes again." Pictures and text are gentle and poetic, suggesting the mystery of the desert at night, where all is not as quiet as it might first appear. (Picture book. 4-8)Read full book review >
Released: April 1, 1998

In this retelling of a Chinese folktale from Young (Mouse Match, 1997, etc.), the wise man, Sai, conveys to others how what appears bad is often good, and what first seems good fortune can be bad. When his horse runs away, Sai tells the people who come to comfort him that it may not be a bad thing, and is proven right when his horse returns with a beautiful white mare. People come by to celebrate Sai's good fortune, but he is reluctant to rejoice. His forebodings are proven apt when his son is injured in a fall from the mare. As in Zen tales, the strength of this story is in its subtlety. Young's sensitive illustrations portray both panoramic sweeps of life in ancient China, and the individual characters in the story. Three multi-jointed, delicately wrought puppets—or dolls—are included; although it may be difficult for children to envision reenacting this cerebral tale on the puppet stage, Young's words of encouragement may be enough to get them engaged. (Picture book/folklore. 5-8) Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 1, 1997

The mouse-parents of a cherished mouse-daughter seek the greatest and most powerful suitor for her; the sun begs off, for it humbly admits it can be eclipsed by a cloud. Each potential groom is just as honest: The cloud can be blown by the wind; the wind can be blocked by a mountain; the mountain can be nibbled to crumbs—by mice. Young (Genesis, p. 148, etc.) illustrates the story in an unconventional application of colors combined with a collage technique, featuring choices such as the lined green paper for the leaf of what looks like an iris plant. The mice are left in silhouette, but humor and personality are conveyed in their shapes and postures. The most unusual aspect of the story is its accordian format: A strip of heavy, coated cardboard has been folded into the picture-book format. Every turn of a fold brings readers to a discernible spread, but every spread blends into the next: The result is that the entire story can be unfolded into one long continuum. On the reverse side, in white calligraphy on a black background, the story appears in Chinese. It's a polished, effective presentation, for lap-sharing or story hours, and evidence that Young continuously redefines his role as a picture-book creator. (Picture book/folklore. 5-9) Read full book review >
GENESIS by Ed Young
Released: Feb. 28, 1997

Young (Night Visitors, 1995, etc.), with his sure elegance, exceptional take on nuance and suggestion, and the palpable luxury of his colors, creates a compelling version of the Judeo-Christian creation story. Against the stately language of the King James Genesis, Young's palette of dark jewel tones suggest and intimate the mystery and majesty of creation. A tiny light gleams in the blue- black void; on the next spread, that light cracks open the darkness as the waters and the firmament divide. A shape hints at a great serpent or animal; then animal faces peer from the grasses and bird flight from the clouds. When the earth brings forth living creatures, the shark appears under the wingspread of the eagle; man crouches, his hands clutching at the earth from whence he came. The hand of God holds myriad living shapes as the command comes to be fruitful and multiply; those forms re-form in the contours of Adam and Eve. While not for those who want a literal illustration of Genesis, this beautiful book honors the Word and the story. (Picture book. 4-8) Read full book review >
Released: Feb. 1, 1997

A labor of love for a versatile illustrator (see review, above) introduces some Chinese characters and invites readers to muse upon human nature. In 26 pages appear 26 thoughtful descriptions of traits such as virtue, shame, realization, and forgiveness. In ``Respect,'' a Chinese seal or pictograph is shown at the bottom of the page; above it, its components are broken down, e.g., the symbols for ``twenty,'' ``pair of hands,'' and ``heart,'' because ``twenty pair of hands symbolize twenty generations. When the heart acknowledges the wisdom of twenty generations, respect develops.'' Filling much of the page is a modern interpretation of the seal or pictograph, collage creations made from a range of papers, from exotic handmade pieces to paper toweling. Explanations sometimes relate the concept to Chinese history, but while Young calls this a work of ``personal reflection,'' the emotions and ideas are universal. (Picture book/nonfiction. 6-11) Read full book review >
PINOCCHIO by C. Collodi
by C. Collodi, illustrated by Ed Young
Released: Sept. 10, 1996

What most readers know of Pinocchio is a wooden puppet whose nose grows from telling lies. This episode—longer than a picture book but shorter than the original tale—is one small chapter in the exploits and adventures of Pinocchio, the boy wannabe. An illustrated adaptation, it follows the original M.A. Murray translation closely, yet succeeds without the long-windedness of the 1892 classic, and with all the rich language, spirited characters, and lively escapades intact. Inspired by the commedia dell'arte, the Italian traveling street theater of Collodi's time, Young (Night Visitors, 1995, etc.) has created scenes that authentically capture the playlike quality of the story. Reminiscent of his colorful cut-paper collage in Seven Blind Mice (1993), the array of characters and images cleverly reflect a stage production, complete with double-page spreads that act as scenery backdrops. It's an energetic rendition that invites the audience to meet again the mischievous puppet with all his foibles, setting the stage for an Oz-like ending that reaffirms the power of good. (Fiction. 6+) Read full book review >
OCTOBER SMILED BACK by Lisa Westberg Peters
Released: Sept. 1, 1996

October Smiled Back ($14.95; Sept. 1996; 32 pp.; 0-8050-1776-3): Personification is difficult to present in poetry directed at young children, but Peters (The Hayloft, 1995, etc.) achieves some success with this quiet ramble through a single year. Though really one long poem, and featuring about one month per spread, this striking book pairs brief rhymes with oversized torn paper collages. ``Lazy February'' is a sleepy cheetah, ``Frisky March'' is depicted as a leaping goat, while August is a soaring gull. Children may not connect with this on their own, but it may make an accessible prelude to more formal poetic encounters. (Picture book. 5-8) Read full book review >
WHITE WAVE by Diane Wolkstein
adapted by Diane Wolkstein, illustrated by Ed Young
Released: Sept. 1, 1996

Wolkstein (Esther's Story, 1996, etc.) revisits an exquisite Chinese folktale she first published in 1979. The poor, solitary farmer of the original tale now has a name: Kuo Ming. He finds an opalescent shell and takes it home. The next evening, his dinner is waiting for him when he returns from the fields. He wonders how this happens, and, by spying, he discovers a woman of light, the moon goddess, who lives in the shell; he knows he must not touch her. In the way of such things, he cannot resist doing so, and thus loses her, but she leaves him her name, White Wave, and a promise that she keeps. He builds a shrine to her and tells his children the tale. When he dies, the shell is lost; the shrine, in time, disappears. ``All that remained was the story.'' The changes in the text may be too subtle to justify purchasing this newly designed edition where the old one is still available; Young's spare black-and-white pencil illustrations, with their gorgeous use of negative space, are unchanged. Still, where copies are tattered, or for those who missed it the first time around, this is a beautiful volume. (Picture book/folklore. 3-7) Read full book review >
THE TURKEY GIRL by Penny Pollock
adapted by Penny Pollock, illustrated by Ed Young
Released: April 1, 1996

Unlike most Cinderella variants, this retelling of a Zuni story ends unhappily, and hinges on the main character's unfaithfulness. When the ragged turkey herder hears that a Dance of the Sacred Bird is to be held in nearby Hawikuh, she weeps—until her avian friends magic her clothes into splendid garments, hawk up silver and jewelry that they've collected in their crops for years, and send her off, charging her to return before sunset or prove herself ``mean of spirit.'' Enthralled by the music and the men, she delays too long, and loses turkeys, fine clothing, and any hope of respect from her peers. Pollock (Garlanda, 1980, etc.) tells the tale in formal, flowing style, with long sentences and polite dialogue; Young's large, impressionistic scenes only hint of place, dress, or culture, but fully capture the story's changing moods with floating, indistinct figures and strongly colored light. A graceful, dreamy episode. (Picture book/folklore. 6-8) Read full book review >
by Ed Young, illustrated by Ed Young
Released: Oct. 17, 1995

An enchanting Chinese folktale is enhanced by the subdued, mesmeric style of Young (Donkey Trouble, p. 1360, etc.). Ho Kuan, a young scholar, is charged with keeping a stream of ants out of his father's storehouse. Seeking a way to please his father without drowning the ants, he is visited by an army of black soldiers who summon him to their king. In the royal city he marries, thwarts an attack of red-armored invaders, and becomes a hero. Ho Kuan wakes to find his adventure a dream, but the solution to his problem real. The shadowy figures in the pictures might not engage all young readers, but sensitive viewers will be rewarded. Fresh, uplifting, and profound. (Picture book. 4-8)*justify no* An enchanting Chinese folktale is enhanced by the subdued, mesmeric style of Young (Donkey Trouble, p. 1360, etc.). Ho Kuan, a young scholar, is charged with keeping a stream of ants out of his father's storehouse. Seeking a way to please his father without drowning the ants, he is visited by an army of black soldiers who summon him to their king. In the royal city he marries, thwarts an attack of red-armored invaders, and becomes a hero. Ho Kuan wakes to find his adventure a dream, but the solution to his problem real. The shadowy figures in the pictures might not engage all young readers, but sensitive viewers will be rewarded. Fresh, uplifting, and profound. (Picture book. 4-8)*justify no* An enchanting Chinese folktale is enhanced by the subdued, mesmeric style of Young (Donkey Trouble, p. 1360, etc.). Ho Kuan, a young scholar, is charged with keeping a stream of ants out of his father's storehouse. Seeking a way to please his father without drowning the ants, he is visited by an army of black soldiers who summon him to their king. In the royal city he marries, thwarts an attack of red-armored invaders, and becomes a hero. Ho Kuan wakes to find his adventure a dream, but the solution to his problem real. The shadowy figures in the pictures might not engage all young readers, but sensitive viewers will be rewarded. Fresh, uplifting, and profo Read full book review >
by Ed Young, illustrated by Ed Young
Released: Oct. 1, 1995

A traditional fable (not sourced, but often attributed to an Arabian folktale) about an old man and his grandson who go to the market to sell their donkey. As they walk through the desert, they are mocked for walking when they could ride; for the grandson's riding while his elder walks; for the grandfather's riding while the young man walks; for both riding and thus overburdening the donkey. They end up carrying the animal, and in the ensuing ruckus, the donkey flees, leaving the already impoverished heroes empty- handed. The illustrations—cut-paper collages with pastel highlights—depict hazy desert spaces, a big sun hovering in the background, and figures silhouetted against the horizon. Each scene is almost identical except for the colors, which change according to the time of day. It all looks serene and somber, peacefully preparing readers for the apt moral that ``to prosper, they must follow their own hearts.'' (Picture book. 5-8) Read full book review >
CAT AND RAT by Ed Young
Released: Sept. 1, 1995

According to the notes at the beginning of the book, when the Chinese calendar was created, the animals ran a race, and the 12 who came in first had a year named after them. Young (Little Plum, 1994, etc.) describes the race, focusing on the cat and the rat; despite their plans to win together, the rat dumped the cat and came in first, while the cat was the 13th animal to finish. Thus, the cat and rat are forever enemies. As animal after animal crosses the finish line, the story becomes mechanical and then tedious. The illustrationscharcoal and pastels on rice paperare very dark and among the most abstract Young has every created; they depict animals in motion (predominantly their heads, with bulging eyes) at the end of the race. The text is printed along the side of page, black on white. Inclusion of a page of horoscopes along with the Gregorian equivalents to the animals' years will intrigue readers, but the story may not keep them involved to the end. (Picture book/folklore. 4-8) Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 28, 1994

Drawing on two Chinese-language versions of a traditional tale about a boy even smaller than Tom Thumb, Young portrays a hero who's sure to endear himself to listeners and storytellers alike. Overjoyed by a tiny son born miraculously in their old age, his parents name him Little Plum. The boy never grows, but he brings prosperity by whispering directions into the ear of the family mule. Then soldiers, in a time of drought, punish the villagers for their inability to pay taxes by commandeering their livestock. But Little Plum makes his way to their lord's stronghold, rides a wind-blown leaf over the armored gate, keeps the guards awake all night by stirring up the stolen animals, and leads them home when the guards are finally overcome by sleep. The evil lord follows and gets a well-deserved drubbing as a result of another of clever Little Plum's tricks. Glowing with deep tones enlivened with brighter hues, Caldecott Medalist Young's (Moon Mother, 1993, etc.) full-bleed art captures the story's drama in expressive close-ups and spare, carefully structured compositions focusing on its most significant elements. A trickster tale rich with meaning and handsomely set. (Folklore/Picture book. 4-10) Read full book review >
IBLIS by Shulamith Levey Oppenheim
adapted by Shulamith Levey Oppenheim, illustrated by Ed Young
Released: April 1, 1994

A retelling of the Fall, based on an Islamic version dating from the ninth century. The angel Ridwan has guarded Paradise against Iblis (Satan) for 500 years. When Iblis tries to corrupt the peacock by promising to save him from old age and death, the bird refuses but sends him ``Eve's favorite companion,'' the serpent, who shudders at the evil in Iblis's face but succumbs to his persuasion. Concealed as a mote of dust in the serpent's teeth, Iblis is carried into Paradise; swearing blasphemously by his Creator's name, he persuades Eve to eat of the forbidden ``wheat tree.'' The story ends with the expulsion; Iblis is condemned to eternal torment and the peacock deprived of his fine voice. Oppenheim's clean, melodious retelling is stunningly complemented by sweeping spreads in sumptuous pastels and watercolors. Two complex meldings of the serpent's head with a woman's face are intriguingly ambivalent; otherwise, Young captures the story's emotional resonance in simple impressionistic images and luminous color, exploring his palette's nuances from magenta and sunlight yellow to midnight's dark hues. A beautiful and powerful offering. (Nonfiction/Picture book. 4+)night's dark hues. A beautiful and powerful offering. (Nonfiction/Picture book. 4+) Read full book review >
SADAKO by Eleanor Coerr
by Eleanor Coerr, illustrated by Ed Young
Released: Oct. 27, 1993

Using soft-focus pastel images (created for a 1990 video) and a shortened text, Coerr's poignant story of Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes (1977) is recast in picture-book format. The author's abridgement omits transitional passages and details of Sadako's illness and rearranges events slightly, but the heart of her moving story is intact. Young's inexhaustible imagination creates images with dual meanings: the jacket closeup of Sadako's eyes is also a crane in flight and, in a series of small images on the first three pages, a mushroom cloud is transformed into a crane. A sensitive adaptation that makes a classic story accessible to a younger audience. (Biography/Picture book. 6-9) Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 30, 1993

In a lovely creation tale (drawn from Charles E. S. Wood's 1901 collection of ``Myths of the North American Indians''; not attributed to any tribe), plants come first, with no one to eat their fruits until a lonely ``spirit person'' makes animals, then ``images of himself.'' Since the men are hunters, he gives the animals defenses (most effective is the skunk's). Then the spirit person finds a woman spirit and leaves the men, who quarrel among themselves until one brave chief follows after the spirit people. He learns that they have become the sun and moon, but they've left a gift: a baby—``changeful as the moon''—who grows up to become the first woman. The myth is retold with admirable grace and simplicity. Young's full-bleed art, rendered in pastels, is vibrant with sumptuous color; the dazzling, sunstruck mist of early dawn is especially arresting, and the elemental, cloudlike forms truly bespeak a universal beginning. (Picture book. 4-8) Read full book review >
RED THREAD by Ed Young
by Ed Young, illustrated by Ed Young
Released: March 24, 1993

With an imaginative, innovative use of traditional elements of Chinese art recalling Young's Lon Po Po (1990 Caldecott Medal), another spellbinding Chinese tale. Wei Gu, an orphan, longs for a wife. Seeking a matchmaker, he encounters an old man from the spirit world who predicts that he will marry, in 14 years, a child who is now only three years old; the spirit shows Wei a red thread that already links them and will surely draw them together. At first overjoyed, the haughty Wei is dismayed when his bride is pointed out in the marketplace, carried by a poor blind woman; furious, he sends his servant to kill the child. Years later, happily married, he questions his well-born wife about the ornament she wears and learns that it covers the scar his servant made. But in this generous tale, Wei's youthful pride and indiscretion are forgiven: ``After this day the couple grew even closer,'' ending their days in honor and wealth. Setting his unobtrusive blocks of text below a single ruled red ``thread'' crossing the full-bleed spreads, Young dapples his pages with delectable clouds of pastels and watercolors, delicately defining forms with lines of soft blue or gray and a gentle red that echoes the title motif. In exquisitely designed compositions, he plays architecture's precision against crowds of tiny impressionistic figures, uses dynamic perspectives and brilliant colors to focus on a dramatic portrait, or frames the couple, in their moment of revelation, in a mellow haze subtly etched with the lines of their home. Another splendid achievement for this fine artist. (No source given, but LC classes this in 398.21.) (Folklore/Picture book. 4+) Read full book review >
Released: April 29, 1992

A many-talented illustrator (Lon Po Po, 1989, Caldecott Medal) uses a new medium—collage—in an innovative reworking of ``The Blind Men and the Elephant,'' with splendid results: a book that casually rehearses the days of the week, numbers (ordinal and cardinal), and colors while memorably explicating and extending the theme: ``Knowing in part may make a fine tale, but wisdom comes from seeing the whole.'' The mice (first seen as an intriguing row of bright tails on the elegantly spare black title spread) are the colors of the rainbow plus white; they, the white text, and the parts of the elephant (as they really are and as the mice imagine them) are superimposed on a dramatic black ground. The real elephant is skillfully composed with textured and crumpled paper in gentle earth tones; in a sly philosophical twist, the form each mouse imagines is the color of the mouse: e.g., Green Mouse says the trunk is a snake, shown as green. On Sunday, White Mouse (the only female) runs over the entire elephant, getting the others to join her; now, at last, with her help, they all understand the whole. Exquisitely crafted: a simple, gracefully honed text, an appealing story, real but unobtrusive values and levels of meaning, and outstanding illustrations and design—all add up to a perfect book. (Picture book. 3+) Read full book review >
WHILE I SLEEP by Mary Calhoun
Released: April 23, 1992

Like Ginsburg's Asleep, Asleep (below), another bedtime survey of sleepers, inspired by a child's questions. The repetitive, more pedestrian text here (``Does a boat sleep at night, Mama? Yes, dear. Boats sleep at their docks'') is also broader-ranging, going from domestic to wild animals to kinds of transportation and concluding with the sun and the curious child. Young sets his night-darkened images of the sleepers in four-inch squares that he imposes on sunny double spreads of the corresponding animals, train, etc. engaged in daytime activities, their evanescent forms distilled to impressionistic simplicity against serene, dreamlike clouds of glorious color. The idea here is trite, but Young's imaginative visualization is a pleasure. (Picture book. 2-6) Read full book review >
WHAT COMES IN SPRING? by Barbara Savadge Horton
Released: April 1, 1992

A gracefully poetic conversation between a mother and daughter links the cycling of the seasons to the child's own birth. In spring come ``leaves on trees and robins [and] The first time I ever saw your daddy.'' ``Where was I?'' ``You weren't born yet.'' ``Mama, what comes next?'' The summer's wedding, the baby beginning ``to grow inside of me'' in autumn, the ``crisp, clean air'' of winter when ``our voices sound loud in the quiet''—all are recalled in loving dialogue, coming at last to the joy of birth in the spring. In Young's glowing impressionistic pastels, the family is Oriental; his palette here is bright yet tender, the point of view sometimes intimately close, like that of a child secure in her parents' welcome. A lovely first book, with a text worthy of its beautiful setting. (Picture book. 3-6) Read full book review >
THE RIME OF THE ANCIENT MARINER by Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Released: March 31, 1992

A prolific illustrator (Caldecott winner for Lon Po Po, 1989) takes on one of the 19th century's most enduring narrative poems, providing six double-spread and two single-page illustrations in glowing, impressionistic pastels plus many vignettes rendered in charcoal. From its elegant jacket—the title, gold on wine, imposed on a bird's-eye view of the ethereal albatross flying up from the ghostly ship on a turquoise and emerald sea—this is a handsome edition. The b&w drawings break the long text, helping modern readers to visualize the action and sometimes reflecting the horror, though the understated style is not intrusive and leaves one free to imagine details. The more dramatic, richly colored pastels may draw new readers to this story of ghostly adventure, terror, retribution, and penance; a few will glory in the magnificent language, and some may even take note of the message for our times: ``He prayeth best, who loveth best/ All things both great and small.'' (Poetry. 12+) Read full book review >
DREAMCATCHER by Audrey Osofsky
Released: March 1, 1992

With a willow twig and nettle-stalk twine, an Ojibway baby's sister weaves a weblike ``dreamcatcher'' to hang above the crib and sift out bad dreams. The baby sleeps and wakes and sleeps again, the family busy around it. Young's unfocused, impressionistic pastels capture the simplicity of the infant's changing moods with shifts of color and hazy but expressive faces. The authentically scary bad dreams—evil-eyed white owl Kokokoo and a ``raggedy man...his birchbark mask glowing like a ghost''—catch in the net until, ``struck by morning light,'' they die. Some of the text is white, legible on the darker backgrounds but less so on pale spreads like one showing the father in his canoe. A quiet glimpse of family affection and other universals within a particular traditional culture. (Picture book. 0-4) Read full book review >
GOODBYE GEESE by Nancy White Carlstrom
Released: Nov. 7, 1991

In poetic dialogue, Papa personifies winter in response to a child's queries: ``Does winter have eyes? Yes, she has an icy stare that freezes the rivers and ponds...When geese spread their wings in the sky and fly honking south, winter hears and winter comes.'' In rich, impressionistic double spreads, Young evokes glowing fall and shadowed winter in Alaska, Carlstrom's home, the outlines of the snow-covered landscape and soaring Canada geese barely suggested but their images singing forth in glorious color, dramatically contrasted with the encircling dark. Like the boy who asks the questions here, young children will be intrigued by the author's nicely developed metaphor; but it's Young's lovely illustrations that give the book its distinction. (Picture book. 4-9) Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 28, 1983

What, one might wonder, does Fritz see in the hackneyed subject of Pocahontas? As the title suggests (and the text handles delicately): a young girl who believed herself bound to John Smith by Powhatan's adoption of him, and so also felt herself part of his Jamestown world. There is conjecture here, but Fritz faces it squarely—citing Pocahontas' young age (probably eleven) when she acted as his "sponsor," noting that Smith would have had every reason to humor her. Slipping back and forth from Pocahontas' and Powhatan's perspective to Smith's, and portraying Powhatan as Smith's equal in guile, Fritz also suggests that Pocahontas' intervention might have been prearranged: an intriguing thought. Much later, after John Smith's departure, when the English are killing wantonly and Powhatan is beleaguered, Pocahontas is captured and Powhatan replies to ransom demands with a pretext she scorns no less than the English. "Seven broken muskets! Was that all she was worth? She knew her father loved his guns, but did he love them more than he did her?" And then, ringing in the charming, plaintive phrase Pocahontas learned as a girl from the English, Fritz has her lament: "Did he mean to let her stay here forever, always walking with small steps, speaking the sharp English speech like twigs snapping. Love you not me? Love you not me?" So she gives in, accepts Christianity, and marries John Rolfe—who had "decided it was God's will." (In parentheses: "He had already found out that it was Pocahontas' will too.") Buoyant and affecting. Read full book review >
Released: Nov. 20, 1972

The story of a rich merchant who tries in vain to protect his beautiful daughter from the world is a familiar one and apparently rather limited in its capacity for vitalizing variation. In this case it is the whispering wind which makes the girl discontented with luxury and unbroken happiness and who in the end carries her off to meet the "ever changing world." It's all a little too impalpable to be a story hour favorite, though Yolen tells it with her usual grace and the elegant, patterned illustrations which the editors compare to Persian miniatures suit the opulent artificiality of the setting. Read full book review >