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Sunday, August 16, 2015

Two Tengu Tales From Japan by Duncan Ball. Ill. By David Allan. Armidale: Christmas Press, 2015

The latest fairytale retelling from Christmas Press has wandered from Europe to Asia. The stories in this, "Kenji's Magic Sandals" and "The Magic Cloak", are very different in tone from some of the European fairytales in previous Christmas Press volumes, especially the most recent, in which the retellings were of Bluebeard and Beauty And The Beast. 

There is humour, for a start. In the first story, a young boy, Kenji, receives a pair of magic sandals from a tengu, a magical being out of Japanese folklore. If you fall over while wearing them, a gold coin drops down for you. There is one hitch: each time you use it you shrink a little. However, the boy needs money to buy medicine for his sick mother and his greedy uncle won't lend it to them. When the uncle borrows the sandals, he receives the punishment you would expect for his greed. In the second story, the village lout tricks a tengu into handing over his magic cloak that makes you invisible, but it isn't the tengu's vengeance that gets him, it's his own bad behaviour while wearing it. In the end, he doesn't die, he's just embarrassed - very embarrassed! 

Duncan Ball has written a delightful pair of tales that children will enjoy. As usual, David Allan has created delicate, beautiful art to go with the stories, with a watercolour wash and a Japanese style. It can be read to younger children or handed to older ones to read themselves. 

Another gorgeous publication from Christmas Press! 

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