BOOK REVIEWS

Peach Boy: A Japanese Legend (Legends of the World) Reviews

UPDATE TIME: 2016-11-03 
Review Score: 5 out of 5 star From 4 user ratings
ISBN:0816762279
LANGUAGE:English

"This book is the English version of the famous Japanese Fairytale "momotaro". It is easy to read and there are many illustrations.
I recommend this book to children and adults interested in Japan and its culture.
" said.

"Why not? Because there's a budding young hero inside of it!

A powerful retelling of a well-known Japanese folk tale, Sakurai and Nagano's "Peach Boy" is a beautifully illustrated and well-written story combines several traditional folk motifs. These include:

' A baby (here, Momotaro, or "Peach Boy") found in a river or remote area, destined to save his or her town

' A threatening monster, heretofore undefeatable

' The training and apprenticeship of the young hero, who shows exceptional power and/or personal traits

' On the journey to battle a monster, the hero befriends allies for the eventual fight.

' Things happen in threes, and food motivates

' Clever, resourceful ploys, as well as personal virtues, combat brute strength

' There is a happy ending, and the "adoptive" parents are proud of their son or daughter

All of these ingredients are present to some degree, although there isn't that much emphasis on `tricks' and `virtues.' Yet, as recognizable as these story elements may be, "Peach Boy" keeps things fresh by telling and showing them in new and appealing ways. Illustrator Makiko Nagano probably deserves enormous credit for the rich watercolor (?) illustrations in shaded pastel hues. Thin white and grey outlines separate the colors, imparting a luminous, mosaic-like effect. The illustrations of Momotaro's journey and the eventual battle are dazzling.

Gail Sakurai tells the story in a flowing style that's coherent and easy to follow. The early subplot about older couple's discovery of the baby, and his later huge appetite ("If they gave him two both s of rice, he would eat them both and still be ready for more.") personalizes the story and injects some humor. Similarly, Momotaro's alliance with a dog, a monkey, and a beautifully illustrated pheasant (all lured by his delicious dumplings) add personality, color, and interest.

The brave Peach boy, wielding a huge sword, and aided by the pheasant's distraction and the attacks of the dog and monkey defeats the ogres, who agree to return the town's treasure and "promise never to bother the village people again." (The monkey's sharp claws draw just a few visible lines of blood; overall, the fight scene is exciting but very subdued). A one-page afterward describes Japanese culture, briefly describing the Iris Festival, the Doll Festival, and the Festival of the Peach. Overall, this is an excellent story with superb illustrations. Note: These comments refer to the hardcover edition of the book."Peach Boy"it's offered here at an unbelievable low price!
" said.

"Peach Boy begins as the sad story of an old man and an old woman who have good lives but aren't happy because they have no children to brighten their days. One day while doing the wash, the woman finds a giant peach floating down the river. She takes it home as a treat for her husband...but when they go to eat it, a baby boy pops out! Recognizing it as a gift from the gods, answering their prayers to have a child, naturally they name the child Momotaro (Peach Boy). The child indeed brightens their days and grows big and strong, helping them both with their jobs until one day he hears of some ogres who are terrorizing villagers and stealing their treasures...he decides to set out and fight the terrible ogres and get back the people's treasure. Along the way he meets a dog, a monkey and a pheasant, each of whom he shares a dumpling and who joins him on his journey to fight the ogres. In the end, it is a combination of clever wit, teamwork with his new allies and brute strength that wins the day and sends Peach Boy back to his village and family a hero.

Overall, Peach Boy is well told and the illustrations match the text perfectly...a very nice compliment. Sakurai has personalized the story a bit with details like the ever hungry nature of Peach Boy and the way that the animals are enticed by the smell of his mother's dumplings and agree to help him if he shares, this give the story a bit of humor, which is very nice!! I give Peach Boy four stars; it's a fine retelling of this Japanese folktale and a nice addition to any classroom library or for reading by any child who loves myths and legends! One final note, each book in this series comes with a one page summary of the legend, including other names it's been called and a bit about the history how the story developed and what its significance is, so you don't just get the story...you get the context as well! This is something that I really enjoy in this series and it's one of the reasons that I recommend it.
" said.

"Loved this book as a child when I lived in Japan back in the early 60's. My daughter is using it for college education classes." said.

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