In this mystical adventure, follow Kenji on an intriguing journey that leads to a mysterious mountain, an eerie, abanonded temple, and the threat of the terrible Goblin Rat. Clement's beautifully executed paintings add a rich drama to the story. Full color.
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A competent adaptation of a legend about a frail boy whose farm family takes him to a monastery to train as a priest. Turned out because he neglects his work to draw cats, Kenji is ashamed to go home; instead, he goes to another village, where a fearsome Goblin Rat infests the temple where he seeks refuge. There his artistic ability serves well: while he sleeps, his wonderfully lifelike cats kill the goblin. Cl‚ment's acrylic paintings, in a spare palette of grays and browns touched with rust or garnet, are austere yet quietly dramatic. Unusual perspectives, strong composition in the picture plane, split-screen artwork, and boldly drawn Japanese characters incorporating illustrative vignettes--all contribute to an unusually well designed format. Citing Lafcadio Hearn's English paraphrase (1898), Levine offers an embellished retelling, naming characters, describing scenes in more detail, changing the point at which Kenji first experiences fear and some details of the conclusion. It's not an improvement on Hearn's graceful simplicity, but it's a likable update, striking a good balance between contemporary warmth and accessibility and respect for the earlier version. (Folklore/Picture book. 5+) -- Copyright ©1994, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.From Publishers Weekly:
A Japanese legend celebrating the importance of art and spirit receives worthy treatment in this stunning volume. Too frail to work the family farm, young Kenji is sent to a monastery to train as an acolyte, but he can't resist his passion for painting. Expelled, he must find his own way in a forbidding world where, one terrifying night, his very real cat paintings rescue him from the Goblin Rat. Levine's precise and evocative language packs graceful surprises ("His steps crumbled ash-white leaves at the threshold") and is ably complemented by Clement's delicate, haunting watercolors. A sense of veiled mystery, of the surreal, permeates his art, as if it has been painted in layers of meaning for the reader to interpret. Pastel colors have a gossamer quality; as Kenji follows winding paths through mists and blowing leaves, he seems to enter a dreamscape. The effect is both beautiful and unnerving. Children will love the cats who hover everywhere, finely etched, eyes gleaming. The book's exquisite design includes decorative borders, a parchment look and a Japanese character, explained in a glossary, heading each page. Ages 5-up.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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