|The Seven Chinese Brothers, |
by Margaret Mahy and Jean and Mao-sien Tseng
Written by Margaret Mahy
Illustrated by Jean and Mou-sien Tseng
grades K-3, reading level 4.8
Folk Tale, Siblings
"Once upon a time, when Ch'in Shih Huang was emperor of all China, seven remarkable brothers lived together on a beautiful hillside. They walked alike, they talked alike, they even looked so much alike that it was to tell one brother from the brother next to him. All the same, each brother had something special about him. Each brother had one amazing power that was all his own."
This folk tale mixes fact and fiction as it sets this magical family in the very real setting of the Qin dynasty. Seven brothers want to help repair a hole in the Great Wall. When the first brother is arrested and threatened with execution, the second takes his place. The story progresses as each brother in turn substitutes himself for the previous brother. Because of their incredible powers, like super-strength, iron bones, and fireproof skin, the brothers are able to cheat the executioner each morning. But it is the seventh son who is able to rescue the entire family and give the emperor's army their just reward.
What I Love:
I love Margaret Mahy's retelling. She is a master wordsmith and a mischievous storyteller. I always feel like the author is smirking as she spins a tale. The watercolor art is beautiful, fine contemporary illustrations with a definite nod to traditional Chinese design.
3. Cook up Emeril's Szechuan Style Spareribs from Food Network.
4. Spin a tale. Grace Lin twists this story into her own version, titled Seven Chinese Sisters. Read her website for ideas and activities, then try writing your own.
5. Professor David K. Jordan has posted a fabulous treasury of Chinese folk tales with explanations for English-speaking readers as well as a trove of links to Chinese history and culture.
6. Check out these and other Perfect Picture Books at your local library.
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Have you reviewed a Perfect Picture Book along this theme? Please leave the link in the comments below. Thanks!
Check out all the recommended titles for Perfect Picture Book Friday
for February 27, 2015 available on Susanna Leonard Hill's blog.