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Saturday, July 07, 2018

Currently Re-reading... The Plum-Rain Scroll by Ruth Manley

Recently, I’ve been making a desperate attempt to clear away years and years of junk, piled up during my teaching and library and writing careers. It’s not easy, but apart from being able to see some of the floor again in my study and my lounge room, I’m occasionally rewarded with a discovery of something I had either forgotten I had or forgotten where it was.

A few days ago, I found something whose location I had long forgotten. It was my copy of Ruth Manley’s wonderful children’s novel, The Plum-Rain Scroll, which won the CBCA’s book of the year, in 1979, probably for Younger Readers. It’s the book you read when you’ve run out of volumes in Lloyd Alexander’s Chronicles Of Prydain, which it resembles in style, though it’s set in Japan rather than Wales. There are two volumes following, The Dragon Stone and The Peony Lantern. There were a few loose ends at the close of the final volume, but the author died without writing any more in this series, so what you read is what you get. Still, no cliffhangers!

You know how there are books that disappoint you when you reread them many years later? I’m pleased to say this isn’t one of them. I’m loving it all over again.

The young hero, Taro, lives with his eccentric Uncle Thunder and practical Aunt Piety, an amazing cook, at an inn in a magical version of Japan. They aren’t his real relatives, but they are a loving family. All I can say is that both Uncle and Aunt are more than they seem. It’s because of this and the evil Black Iris Lord, servant of the Death God, that Taro finds himself on the run with a weird and wacky group of comrades, as well as the Mikado’s brave and decent warrior nephew, Prince Hachi, Lord Eight-Thousand-Spears.

See what I mean about The Chronicles Of Prydain? But this is not plagiarism by any means. It introduces young readers to Japanese folklore, and my mouth waters at the food described. It's delightfully quirky stuff. Kids will love it - and so will you.

Anyway, I am going to finish this and hunt up my other volumes, which I'm pretty sure are on the shelves in my study. If you want them, you may have to find them on AbeBooks, but it’s well worth the effort!


AJ Blythe said...

I used to own this book, but a quick scan of my shelves and I can't see it. I'd forgotten about it until I read your comments, Sue. I remember really enjoying the book, which is why I hung on to it for many years, although I suspect it may have gone when we moved to the ACT from Qld.

Sue Bursztynski said...

Oh, well, I expect some child is enjoying your old copy right now!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Sue - that's great to read ... I really should read some of these ... probably not now - but will get there sometime ... I'll check in the Library - but may need to wait til I get back to the UK - cheers Hilary

Sue Bursztynski said...

Hi Hilary! If it’s in the library, it will be in the children’s section, but I rather think it’s out of print. It seems to be easily available at reasonable prices on AbeBookd.