This compelling tale, translated from a ""collection of Chinese folktales,"" may be the finest book yet from this excellent...


LON PO PO: A Red-Riding Hood

This compelling tale, translated from a ""collection of Chinese folktales,"" may be the finest book yet from this excellent illustrator--and is certainly among the most beautiful books this year. Three little girls are left alone while their mother, after warning them to keep the door well latched, goes to visit their grandmother (Po Po) for the night. Under cover of darkness, the wily wolf disguises himself as Po Po, prevails on the younger children to let him in, and blows out the candle. But when he doesn't feel like Po Po, the eldest, Shang, contrives to see his hairy face; then she devises a clever plan to trick the wolf and save them all. Another suspenseful version of this tale appeared in Yep's The Rainbow People (p. 774/C-138). Young's graceful translation is both mellower and nobler in tone, while the story is still satisfyingly frightening as the children contend in the dark with the invader. Young's dramatic illustrations, in watercolor and pastel, appear in vertical panels--one or two per page--with some double-spread vistas extending across two or three panels, a device he uses effectively in his wonderfully harmonious designs. The story's terror is both mitigated and enhanced by the artist's suggestive, soft-edged style: there's none of Hollywood's ghoulish precision, but plenty of the mists and shadows where creatures of the imagination thrive--highlighted by the sisters' expressive eyes. A symphony of lovely color progresses from page to page, always related yet fascinating in its variety and contrasts. Even Young's eloquent dedication--""To all the wolves, of the world for lending their good name as a tangible symbol for our darkness""--is perfect. Absolutely splendid.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1989


Page Count: 32

Publisher: Story from China Philomel/Putnam

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1989

Close Quickview