For age 4 & up Written by Daniel San Souci Illustrated by Eujin Kim Neilan Published by Boyds Mills Press
From Publishers Weekly
Strains of the selkie myths play through San Souci's (Ice Bear and Little Fox) haunting retelling of a Korean folktale. When a woodcutter saves a deer's life, the creature grants the man's wish for a wife: at the next full moon, five maidens descend from heaven to bathe in a lake and he takes one woman's robe; she then becomes earthbound and weds him. But after the woodcutter's wife bears a daughter, she becomes homesick and the man fails to heed the deer's warning that he must not return her robe until their second child is born. Neilan, in her first book for children, creates a mystical aura for the magical lake and woodlands with thick, upward-swirling brushstrokes that meld heaven and earth into a single realm. By contrast, in a portrait of the transplanted woman looking skyward to her home, the brushwork creates concentric circles that seem to emanate from her heart. In the closing painting of the family reunited among the clouds, the characters don't possess the strength and definition of the earlier illustrations. Still, Neilan's imagesAof the enchanted woodland, the maiden's ascent to the heavens with her babe in arms and of the woodcutter astride a magnificent winged dragon en route to join themAevince a power readers will long remember. All ages. Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From School Library Journal
Grade 1-3-When a woodcutter generously rescues a deer, he is rewarded with a celestial bride. Following the deer's instructions, the young man hides in the moonlit mist as five maidens descend from the sky to bathe in a mountain lake. To keep one of the maidens from returning to heaven, he steals her garment. Troubled at first, she is soon won by the woodcutter's kindness and agrees to marry him. Disregarding the deer's warnings and yielding to his wife's pleas, he takes her gown out of hiding after their first child is born. Drawn to her former home, she puts it on and rises to the sky, the baby in her arms. Magical intervention allows for a happy ending, with the family reunited in heaven. In Zong In-sob's classic Folk Tales from Korea (Hollym, 1982), the story of "The Heavenly Maiden and the Wood Cutter" ends with the man turning into a rooster, crowing to the sky after his lost wife. San Souci gives no source for this kinder, gentler version. The realistic illustrations, painted in deeply toned acrylic and assertively textured, are big and bold, but rely on clich?d theatrical expressions rather than conveying genuinely felt emotion. For libraries with large collections of Asian folklore, this would make an interesting comparison to the more famous Chinese and Japanese tale "The Cowherd and the Weaving Maid," but it is not a first purchase. Margaret A. Chang, Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, North Adams Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.