A handsome Japanese version of a favorite folk tale, similar in style to The Crane Wife, done by the same team. The traditional theme of reward for good and punishment of evil prevails in this story of the kind old man who is given fine gifts while his cruel, greedy wife gets toads and snakes in return for cutting the tongue of a sparrow and demanding gifts. Paterson's version is simple but clear, keeping the onomatapoeia of the original intact, but including a pronounciation glossary. She has also kept the humor, preventing the story from becoming too weighty with moral. The illustrations are distinctly Japanese, with colors, conventions of perspective, and a drawing style that are unmistakable even in modern, almost cartoon-like, illustration. Many of the pages have a background that has picked up the uneven tones and flecks of rice paper, adding to the book's oriental effect. Good for telling, reading aloud, or young readers.