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THE STORY OF THE THREE KINGDOMS by Walter Dean Myers

THE STORY OF THE THREE KINGDOMS

By Walter Dean Myers (Author) , Ashley Bryan (Illustrator)

Age Range: 6 - 9

Pub Date: May 30th, 1995
ISBN: 0-06-024286-8
Publisher: HarperCollins

Harmony has little place in Myers's tale of the antediluvian world. Elephant, Shark, and Hawk rule their respective domains of forest, sea, and air with vicious smugness. When People enter the picture, they have nothing but fear for these three kingdoms until the Elephant falls in a pit. Around the campfire, the People devise a way to help, and the grateful beast wants to share his forest. Emboldened by their success, the People then subdue Shark and Hawk with tricks, and demand their right of access. The domination of nature is the heart of this matter; the emphasis is on the evil of the natural world, a threatening place where animals need humiliation meted out by Homo sapiens, and peaceable kingdom be damned. For youngsters, it is a message that sneers in the face of cohabitation, and some of the closing lines of the book--"We do not need to be masters of earth. We can share because it is wise to do so"--feel hollow to the core. Bryan's hyperbright illustrations cannot hold interest in the wake of the overbearing text; the designwork that appears among the pages comes across as unrelated, forgettable bijouterie. (Picture book. 6-9)