THE HUNTER by Mary Casanova
Kirkus Star


A Chinese Folktale
adapted by & illustrated by
Age Range: 7 - 10
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In this spare retelling of a Chinese folk tale, a hunter receives a wonderful gift that ultimately costs him his life. When Hai Li Bu rescues a small snake who turns out to be the daughter of the Dragon King of the Sea, her grateful father gives the young hunter the ability to understand the language of animals—with a warning that he will turn to stone if he ever reveals his secret. One day the animals herald the approach of a devastating storm. Hai Li Bu is unable to convince the local villagers to flee until, at last, he resolutely tells his story, turning to stone bit by bit before their horrified eyes. Against almost featureless flecked backgrounds in which warm, subtly modulated browns are the dominant colors, Young (A Pup Just For Me/A Boy Just For Me, 1999, etc.) places figures formed by strong, economically brushed outlines; their placement opens up great depth and space in each scene, and both the dragon’s spiky hugeness and Hai Li Bu’s quiet heroism are clear to see. A Chinese ideogram or two in the bottom corner of each spread adds a thematic caption, explained in a key. After the catastrophe, the chastened villagers return to rebuild, erect Hai Li Bu as his own monument, and forever after are careful to “listen to every person, even the youngest child.” As much about the changing character of Hai Li Bu’s community as about his own selflessness, this multilayered tale will leave readers moved and thoughtful. (Picture book/folk tale. 7-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2000
ISBN: 0-689-82906-X
Page count: 32pp
Publisher: Atheneum
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15th, 2000


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