Momotarō and the island of ogres A Japanese folktale

Stephanie Wada

Book - 2005

Found floating on the river inside a peach by an old couple, Momotaro grows up and fights the terrible demons who have terrorized the village for years.

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Location Call Number   Status
Children's Room j398.20952/Wada Checked In
Folk tales
Picture books
New York : George Braziller 2005.
1st ed
Physical Description
47 p. : col. ill. ; 23 x 32 cm
Main Author
Stephanie Wada (-)
Other Authors
Kano Naganobu, 1775-1828 (illustrator)
Review by Booklist Reviews

Gr. 2-4. Nineteenth-century silk handscrolls, painted by master Naganobu and housed in the New York Public Library's Spencer Collection, illustrate this handsome retelling of a much-loved Japanese folktale. The story bears similarities to American tall tales of heroic strongmen: an infant emerges from a peach, is dubbed Momotaro (Peach Boy) by his foster parents, and grows into a remarkable, ogre-defeating hero. Possibilities for group sharing are limited, as the handscroll segments have been scaled down to the dimensions demanded by the book's particular design and format, and the lengthy text tends to overwhelm the delicate art. Still, children unfamiliar with the story will find the text a useful gloss on the artwork. In a postscript, art historian Wada explains the symbolism of the paintings and talks about how the art was originally appreciated (the experience of viewing scrolls was "much like that of watching a movie"). Use this with Judy Sierra's Tasty Baby Belly Buttons (2003), an adaptation of the Peach Boy story with a girl as the main character, or as art-class inspiration. ((Reviewed May 15, 2005)) Copyright 2005 Booklist Reviews.

Review by PW Annex Reviews

Rather than updating this classic Japanese folktale with new illustrations, the publisher boldly pairs Wada's lucid, lyrical retelling with the magnificent Momotaro handscroll of Japanese painter Kano Naganobu (1775–1828). Now housed at the New York Public Library, the scroll presents the story's dramatic moments ("Run for your lives, or surrender immediately!") with beguiling brush and ink figures shown against misty mountains and groves of bamboo, in tones of muted gray and rust. The scroll unrolls along the book's pages cinematically, with wide white borders emphasizing its horizontal breadth and expansive landscapes. Wada's narrative follows Momotaro through his remarkable early adventures and describes how he wins over his animal allies (a dog, monkey and pheasant). Momotaro's exploits have convulsed and amazed generations of Japanese children; mixing elements of the Daniel Boone and Robin Hood figures, he conquers a clan of terrible ogres who have terrorized the populace and stolen their treasure. The artist likes Momotaro and his animal sidekicks, but he prefers the ogres. They have lumps on their heads and blue and red bodies that resemble sacks of melons. Once the hero has driven their chief to capitulation, the ogres do whatever Momotaro tells them to, with hangdog looks. Adults should not shrink from the "high art" appearance of the scroll (a postscript describes the artist's fascinating process). Young readers will not hesitate to take his wild figures into the private stables of their own imaginations. A captivating choice. Ages 9-12. (May) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

Review by School Library Journal Reviews

Gr 3-8-For centuries, Japanese storytellers have recounted how Momotaro, the baby found inside a peach and raised by a childless couple, grew up to defeat a tribe of thieving ogres. Kano Naganobu (1775-1828), an official painter for the Shogun, depicted Momotaro's exploits on a pair of silk handscrolls. Wada has retold Peach Boy's adventures to accompany reproductions of scenes from those scrolls. The result is a handsome book that will invite older children to see this beloved story through Japanese eyes. The delicate watercolors depict the hero and his animal helpers against mist-shrouded backdrops of mountain and sea. All of the characters are small, moving through vast open spaces. Even the ogres are dwarfed by the landscape; they are presented as not-so-fearsome beings who repent their ways and voluntarily return their ill-gotten treasure. An afterword provides information about the artist and explains why the tale remains so popular. This title is not a substitute for versions aimed at younger readers, but it is an excellent supplement where authentic Japanese material is needed.-Margaret A. Chang, Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, North Adams Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

Found floating on the river inside a peach by an old couple, Momotaråo grows up and fights the terrible demons who have terrorized the village for years.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

One of Japan's best-loved children's stories brought to life by the extraordinary imagery of an early nineteenth-century handscroll.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

The amazing adventures of Momotaro, a boy found inside a peach and raised by an elderly couple, is one of Japan's most popular folktales. An exquisite handscroll painted by Kano Naganobu (1775-1828) contains one of the finest illustrated versions of the tale known today. The illustrations are reproduced in their entirety as the story follows Momotaro's journey to the terrifying Island of Ogres. After befriending a dog, a monkey, and a pheasant, Momotaro crosses the sea with his new companions and lays siege to the demons' fearsome mountain fortress. The battle is a fierce one, but Momotaro and his friends prevail; they recover the demon's ill-gotten treasure and restore it to its rightful owners.One of the first Japanese folktales to have been translated into English, the story of Momotaro is a delightful and lively voyage of the imagination that can be enjoyed by young and old alike. A lengthy postscript to the tale looks at the tradition of illustrated folk stories in Japan, with examples of Momotaro pictures and related imagery in various forms of art, including painting and woodblock printing. The career of the artist, Kano Naganobu, and the artistic climate in which he worked are also reviewed.