Author: Ed Young
Illustrated by: Ed Young
Hardcover: 36 page(s)
Age Range: 4+
Ontario curriculum: Language - Reading...Social Studies - Heritage and Identity
Ed Young's spare prose, as lovely as a rice-paper painting, describes in measured detail the beautiful and mystical land that the author so clearly loves. The unique format and gorgeous paper-collage illustrations, highlighted with Chinese characters, combine to convey the many facets of China to form a poetic picture of the land's grace, depth, and majesty.
From The Critics:
Young's (Lon Po Po) extraordinary "visual poem" is so splendidly conceived and executed that it takes many readings to reveal its richness. Its sophisticated nature may make it a book more suitable for an older audience. In this concise lyric poem about Young's native country, words and pictures unfold simultaneously as if a primordial China were being formed before readers' eyes. "Beyond the great mountains,/ far to the east, a vast fertile plain./ In its sky, mist rose and fell, rain water gathering/ .../ As sun, moon kept watch, earth gave birth." The binding of the book is at the top, and the pages are tiered; each line of the poem appears at the narrow bottom edge of the page, so that when readers open the book, they can see the text in its entirety. The cut- and torn-paper collages literally grow with each turn of the page. Just above the text, Young includes ancient Chinese characters, showing how visual symbols sometimes combine to make a single word, and the shapes in the illustrations subtly imitate the lines that form the figurative characters (he collects both ancient and modern Chinese characters on the endpapers). The textured illustrations are breathtaking-both visually simple and complex at the same time-as Young invites readers to glimpse a world of stunning beauty.
School Library Journal
A stunning and uniquely designed picture book. Described as a visual poem about China, the book is comprised of 14 lines, each of which is accompanied by its own double-page illustration, done in cut- and torn-paper collage. Young also provides the ancient characters for the images he presents. Readers are able to read the entire poem from the title page since the pages are of graduated lengths, from short to longer, with a line of poetry appearing on the bottom of each page, overlapping just enough to allow for the text to show. Designed to be read vertically, each page is flipped up to reveal the accompanying illustration. In this way, the entire book becomes a piece of art, a visual treat of sublime colors and textures that joins with text and characters to describe the vastness and beauty of China. A chart shows the ancient characters that appear in the book, along with their modern-day equivalents. While the poetry, along with the illustrations and Chinese characters, may provide a creative experience that children can appreciate and enjoy, Young's rather abstract concept of visual verse, as explained in the author's note, will challenge most youngsters. Certainly, adults would find the explanation interesting, and would also appreciate the reflective poetry and images. An excellent choice for libraries looking for China-themed picture books.