This deftly illustrated picture book introduces Confucius, the great Chinese philosopher and teacher, to young readers.
In the preface, the author clarifies that Confucius’ life is “shrouded in legend,” hence the juxtaposition of mythological and realistic characters to tell his story. It starts before Confucius was born, when a mythological creature, the qilin, presents Confucius’ mother with a jade tablet engraved with the words “Your child will be a king without a crown.” Confucius’ potential for greatness is obvious from boyhood. He believes in the importance of ritual, and of all his activities, “he love[s] reading and studying most.” As an adult, Confucius sees despair in the world around him and decides the best way to influence society is through education and eventually opens a school. He welcomes not only the wealthy, but also the poor, believing everyone should be given a chance to lead, and his teachings emphasize the need to govern with compassion and just behavior. Demi incorporates her subject’s own words, taken from various translations of his Analects, throughout her account. Hues of blue, red, and her signature gold pop from the flat, two-dimensional scenes, which are framed in auspicious colors of red and gold. The lack of depth and perspective and the inclusion of symbolic creatures recall traditional Chinese paintings.
An appealing biography done in classic Demi tradition, suitable for readers interested in Confucianism and its impact on Chinese culture and values. (sources, notes) (Picture book/biography. 8-12)