Books by Raymond Chang

Released: May 1, 1999

This enchanted adventure tale from the Changs (The Beggar's Magic, 1997, etc.) rolls along smoothly, telling of a poor but thoughtful and diligent son of a peasant in China. Da Wei has inherited a stone from the sea, given to his father by a fisherman he once befriended; the stone is rumored to have wealth-bestowing powers. It's true—the stone sparks an adventure that leads Da Wei to a mansion beneath the sea. Although he leaves the mansion with only a kitten, it turns into a fabulously talented embroideress from the Jade Court, Lian Di, who had a spell cast on her by jealous rivals. Lian Di's embroidery and Da Wei's hard work ensure their joy and wealth. A last episode, in which a greedy magistrate threatens their happiness and Lian Di works yet another bit of wizardry to save them, overplays the element of magic and diffuses all dramatic tension; readers will have to take on faith Da Wei's cleverness, diligence, and intelligence. McElrath-Eslick's artwork is handsome and evocative, dreamy but with enough detail to keep readers' eyes busy. (Picture book. 5-9) Read full book review >
THE BEGGAR'S MAGIC by Margaret Chang
CHILDREN'S
Released: Sept. 1, 1997

The Changs (The Cricket Warrior, 1994, etc.) retell an ancient Chinese tale about selfishness and sharing, set to luminous illustrations by Johnson. A holy beggar-priest comes to young Fu Nan's village. The boy and his friends are fascinated by the old man, whose cheer and care for all creatures impress them as much as the magic he works: drawing a sparrow that escapes from the page as a real sparrow escapes from a boy's cage; filling an old widow's dry well with water. When the August Moon Festival arrives, and rich Farmer Wu refuses to give a sweet, ripe pear to the priest, the holy beggar takes a pear seed, astonishing the crowd and admonishing the selfish farmer in one act of conjuring. Johnson's ink, watercolor, and colored-pencil illustrations have the pale luster of Chinese silk; his sure rendering of animals, fruit, and flowers, and his use of flat space and elegant line, are inspired by Chinese painting and calligraphy. The book is as satisfying as unselfishness rewarded fully and meanness punished neatly. (Picture book/folklore. 5-9) Read full book review >
THE CRICKET WARRIOR by Margaret Chang
CHILDREN'S
Released: Sept. 1, 1994

A tale of magic and loyalty, first told some 300 years ago in China. It was a time when the emperor was smitten with fighting crickets, going so far as to levy a tax to increase his cricket stable. One victim of the tax, about to be thrown in jail for failing to ante up, manages to bag the Mike Tyson of crickets, only to have it escape through the foolishness of his son. An old soul comes to the son's rescue but requires him to turn into a cricket. A series of prize fights ensues, including bouts with Crabshell Blue and Longwings, both court champions. Wei nian—the son, now cricket—prevails, becoming the hero of the court, but homesickness prompts him to attempt a dangerous escape across a chicken-strewn yard. The old soul again comes to his rescue, this time transforming Wei nian back into a boy and reuniting him with his family. The Changs know how to give the whims of authority a good lambasting without getting smug about it, and Hutton's crabbed pen-and-wash illustrations bring a Roz Chast leavening to the serious themes of the story. (Picture book. 5-9) Read full book review >