Five Chinese Brothers (The Five Chinese Brothers)

9780698113572

Review from the publisher:

The classic picture-story about five clever brothers, each with a different extraordinary ability, has been in print for over 50 years.

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Review from The Horn Book:

"An original nonsense tale told with...spirit and gusto." -- The Horn Book

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What is it about those books from your childhood that are permanently etched somewhere in your mind?  This is one of those books.  My mother read it to us over and over and over again along with a poem called the Pirate Don Dirk of Dowdee  (spelling is all mine).  I was fascinated by the power of these guys and wondered how they got these special abilities.  Maybe if we read the story enough times, I, too, could discover my own special ability/power.

We have five Chinese brothers each of whom is gifted with a unique and wonderfully powerful gift.  These guys are special.  One can swallow the sea, one can hold his breath forever, one has a neck of iron, one can stretch his legs in the Go-Gadget-Go methodology, and one can withstand the hottest fire.

When one brother is sentenced to death for not keeping a promise, the other brothers who are identical, take turns standing in for the brother each time his sentence is being carried out. So, when it's death by drowning, the brother who can swallow the sea takes the place of the doomed brother. When it's death by fire, well..you get the idea..the brother who can withstand fire takes his brother's place.

Folks, if you have a tender listener or a tender reader, perhaps you want to give this a miss.  If not, this may become a family favorite.  The heart of the story is about keeping a promise, being loyal, and being someone others can trust.

Stereotypes run wild through the illustrations.  This is one that stays with you.

Recommended by:  Barb Langridge, abookandahug.com

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