Synopses & Reviews
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.
"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. " Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
One of Japan's most popular folktales--the amazing adventures of Momotar, a boy found inside a peach and raised by an elderly couple--is brought to vivid life by images from an exquisite handscroll painted by Kan Naganobu (1775-1828).
One of Japan's best-loved children's stories brought to life by the extraordinary imagery of an early nineteenth-century handscroll.
About the Author
Stephanie Wada is Associate Curator at the Mary and Jackson Burke Foundation, one of the most extensive private collections of Japanese art outside of Japan. She has taught courses in Asian art at Temple University, Parsons School of Design, Columbia University, and the City College of New York. She lives in New York City.