Books by Oki S. Han

BASHO AND THE RIVER STONES by Tim Myers
ANIMALS
Released: Sept. 1, 2004

Myers revisits his characters from Basho and the Fox (2000) with another original tale in folklore tradition as pleasant as the haiku of the most revered Japanese poet that he honors. Once again, this tale of wit and courage centers on the cherries of the first story that Basho had promised to share with the foxes nearby. In an effort to trick him out of the entire crop, the fox matches wits with Basho, but finds that Basho cannot be fooled as he finds value in whatever he's given (even plain river stones) and in whatever he does. Through his example, the cunning fox, a traditional folk character in Japan, also learns to find value in kindness and sharing. The lushly colored illustrations reflect the gentle nature of Basho and establish the setting and tale as one of simplicity and reverence for true understanding and gratitude. Indeed, as Myers writes: "I've eaten cherries alone— / but they're much sweeter / when shared with a friend." (Picture book. 4-8)Read full book review >
BASHO AND THE FOX by Tim Myers
ANIMALS
Released: Sept. 1, 2000

Myers obscures his point in this original tale, which features the famous poet and a fox who challenges him to write a poem that " ‘needn't be great—only good.' " When Basho tries to drive a fox away from a prize cherry tree, the animal—standing on two legs and clad in a gorgeously patterned robe—issues its dare, haughtily declaring that his kind are far superior to humans as poets. The fox pooh-poohs Basho's first two carefully crafted efforts, then professes awed delight at his desperately extemporaneous third—"Summer moon over / mountains is white as the tip / of a fox's tail." Why does this one satisfy? Because Basho has put a fox in it. Myers then closes with several conclusions, which are so subtle as to risk being missed by the reader. Han's precisely drafted watercolors (Kongi and Potgi, 1994) place her figures in a leafy, semi-wild landscape bursting with inspiration for a nature poet. The muddled message keeps this from succeeding completely as a story, but, like Matthew Gollub's Cool Melons, Turn to Frogs! The Life and Poems of Issa (1998), it could introduce a poet who should be known to every poetry reader. (Picture book. 7-9)Read full book review >
KONGI AND POTGI by Oki S. Han
CHILDREN'S
Released: Nov. 1, 1996

There are several Korean variants of what most readers know as the story of Cinderella. In this one, Kongi is the lovely, uncomplaining, dutiful daughter and Potgi the hateful stepsister. The impossible tasks assigned to Kongi by her stepmother are performed for her by magical beings (a frog, a flock of sparrows, and a huge black ox); as in many of the European versions, and as Han and Plunkett (Sir Whong and the Golden Pig, 1993) note in a preface, these helpful creatures may represent the spirit of Kongi's dead mother. The familiar motif of the lost slipper is present here as well. This version ends happily for everyone: Potgi and her mother repent their cruelty to Kongi and are forgiven. As in Sir Whong, the watercolor illustrations are full of details depicting traditional Korean agrarian life and customs. Shirley Climo and Ruth Heller's The Korean Cinderella (1993) will probably remain the version of choice for sheer sumptuousness of color and design, but Han and Plunkett's is different enough to make it worth consideration for serious folklore collections. (Picture book/folklore. 4-8) Read full book review >
MIAMI-NANNY STORIES by Linda Milstein
FAMILY AND GROWING UP
Released: Oct. 1, 1994

Miami-Nanny is more than a grandmother to Joey and his little sister, Sophie. She is a living link to the past. In these three short tales, Miami-Nanny shares with her grandchildren precious reminders of their family's history. In the first story, ``Miami-Nanny,'' Miami-Nanny comes for a visit. The presents she brings are special: To Joey she gives a radio car that belonged to his grandfather, for whom he is named; Sophie gets her great-aunt Itza-Neni's doll. In ``What Papa Joe Did,'' Miami-Nanny tells Joey about his namesake. In WW II Papa Joe escaped the Nazis by swimming across a huge lake, after which he stayed in Europe to fight for freedom. The last story, ``Itza-Neni,'' is about a girl named Bella who couldn't go to school because she had to stay at home and work. She made beautiful featherbeds for her family and to sell, but one day she became ill. She was in bed for weeks, and there she learned to read. When she recovered, her parents realized they had been unfair to Bella and she joined her brothers in school. Little Bella grew up to be Miami-Nanny. Milstein (Amanda's Perfect Hair, not reviewed) faithfully captures the delightful essence of Nannydom, and Han's illustrations fairly burst out of their borders with energy. Everyone will love Miami-Nanny, with her big, wet kisses, chocolate-chip mandelbread, and shopping bags full of presents and memories. (Fiction/Picture book. 5+) Read full book review >
SIR WHONG AND THE GOLDEN PIG by Oki S. Han
CHILDREN'S
Released: March 1, 1993

Known for his wisdom as well as his wealth and generosity, Sir Whong would not normally loan such a large sum as 1,000 nyung to a stranger, but ``Mr. Oh'' cons him with a sad story and what looks like good security: a golden ``family treasure.'' Months later, when Whong notices that his ``gold'' pig is beginning to tarnish, he raises a hullabaloo: the precious pig is missing, he cries, and when Mr. Oh arrives, hoping to extract still more money in recompense, Whong gives him the pig in return for the original sum. There are some awkward transitions in the retelling of this Korean tale, and the marriage ceremony at which Whong makes his outcry seems to have been inserted mostly for local color; Oki's watercolors, too, in soft, harmonious colors, incorporate interesting cultural and decorative details, but some spreads seem awkwardly crowded. A mixed effort, but the story itself, with its trickster appropriately tricked himself, is appealing. (Folklore/Picture book. 4-8) Read full book review >