Boy in the Garden

Boy in the Garden

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Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, October 18, 2010

A young boy listens to his favorite fairy tale about a man who has a wife who wandered in out of the snow and over the years saved them from poverty by weaving valuable cloth until the man failed to heed her warning and she turned into a crane and flew away. With the story on his mind, the boy and his father go to visit an honored friend. While there the boy ventures out of the man's home and into the garden where he sees the statue of a crane and instantly imagines it to be the crane from the fairy tale. From there he finds himself going deeper and deeper into the possibilities of the story he knows so well. Magic and mystery and a touch of wonder lie ahead. It's a beautiful book with the gentle formality of the Land of the Rising Sun. - Barb

Allen Say creates a tale about many things at once: the power of story, the allure of the imagined, and the gossamer line between truth and fantasy. For who among us hasn't imagined ourselves in our own favorite fairy tale? 32 pages Ages 5-9 Used by Permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt


Jiro is thinking about Crane Woman’s story as he and Father visit Mr. Ozu for the new year. Mama read him the tale of the young woodcutter in old Japan who had rescued a crane trapped in a net. Later, a beautiful woman came to the poor woodcutter’s house, lost in a snowstorm. They fell in love and were married.

As Mr. Ozu and Father talk, Jiro looks out the windows and sees a tall bird in the garden. Quietly walking on the gravel path, he goes closer – is this a crane, like the one in the story? Almost touching it, Jiro is surprised by his father’s laughter and runs away through the garden.

Here is a small cottage, with a door just big enough for Jiro to enter. Is this the woodcutter’s house? The story told that the wife wove beautiful cloth on a loom, telling her husband never to look in the room as she worked. Selling the cloth gave the couple enough money to live for a while, but the man wanted more money and asked his wife to make more cloth.

Jiro hears a knock on the cottage door, and a beautiful woman asks for shelter. Could it be Crane Woman, transformed from the bird in the garden?

Caldecott Medalist Allen Say’s beautiful book recounts the classic Japanese tale with flowing words and charmingly detailed illustrations showing many facets of traditional Japanese life. Readers and read-to-me listeners of all ages will remember this story of love and trust long after closing its covers.

Recommended by: Katy Manck, Librarian-at-Large (retired academic/corporate/school librarian), Gilmer, Texas, USA

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