LEGEND OF THE LI RIVER by Jeanne M.--Adapt. & Illus. Lee


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Even more than The Legend of the Milky Way (1982): a story that comes to eloquent life through Lee's ability to depict the impalpable. In the North of China, workmen are arduously carrying stones to the Great Wall--watched, with pity, by the little princess of the South China Sea. The Goddess of Mercy, whose help she seeks, suggests moving the rocks of the South Sea to the north; she gives the princess a willow twig for this purpose and enjoins her not to speak, or the twig will lose its magic. And it is here that Lee's gift for non-literal illustration registers--for, as the princess swishes the willow twig in the water, the rocks at the bottom stir (""as if awakened"") and there emerge tigers, oxen, camels, horses, and elephants--who first walk, then run, then race up the fiver. But then the little princess, trying to keep up, cries out to an old man. ""Suddenly, there was great calm. . . [and] only hills of rocks along the riverbank."" Flat areas, spare forms, transparent outlines--and no attempt, indicatively, to make the curiously living forms of the rocky hills resemble particular animals. Lee is as wise as she is clever--and this will reward the child drawn by its gravity and calm.

Pub Date: Aug. 26th, 1983
Publisher: Holt, Rinehart & Winston