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BEYOND THE GREAT MOUNTAINS by Ed Young

BEYOND THE GREAT MOUNTAINS

A Visual Poem About China

By Ed Young (Author) , Ed Young (Illustrator)

Age Range: 6 - 10

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 2005
ISBN: 0-8118-4343-2
Publisher: Chronicle

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)