Hai Li Bu, the hunter, combs the countryside trying to find enough food to nourish the people of his village. A tale of loyalty illuminated by Caldecott-winning artist Ed Young. Ages 5-6 Grades K-3. Full-Color illus.; 8.5x11 inches, 32 pgs.
Hai Li Bu is a good hunter, but not even he can find enough food for his village when the drought comes. The people grow thin and weak, the children rarely laugh -- but worst of all, they begin to argue and stop listening to one another.
Out on a hunt one day, Hai Li Bu saves a small snake from the beak of a crane. He is surprised to learn that he has rescued the daughter of the Dragon King of the Sea. The Dragon King offers Hai Li Bu the reward of his choice. Hai Li Bu asks only to know the language of animals. Then he can be a better hunter for his village. His wish is granted with a provision: He must never reveal the secret of his gift to anyone.
Hai Li Bu's people are saved from famine, but when he hears from the animals that a flood is coming that will destroy everything in his village, the people do not listen to him. "You ask us to leave our homes. How can we know what you say is true?" a village elder asks him. Now Hai Li Bu is faced with a terrible choice: to let the people of his village die in the flood or to reveal his secret, knowing the dire consequences for himself.
Caldecott Medal and Honor-winner Ed Young's magnificent illustrations bring this poignant traditional folktale to life.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Author Mary Casanova was enchanted by the story of Hai Li Bu when she first heard it from a foreign exchange student from China who was staying with her. Ms. Casanaova (www.marycasanova.com) lives in Ranier, Minnesota, with her husband and two children. This is her first picture book for Atheneum.
ABOUT THE ILLUSTRATOR
A native of Tianjin, China, Ed Young has illustrated many acclaimed books for children, including Caldecott Medal winner Lon Po Po, and the Caldecott Honor winners The Emperor and the Kite (1968) and Seven Blind Mice (1993). Mr. Young Lives with his family in Hastings-on-Hudson, New York.
But one dawn, the forest was unusually full with the chatter of birds and animals.
"Lightning and heavy rains are coming," cried the foxes. "The entire village will be flooded!"
"Tomorrow," the bears bellowed, "the mountaintop will crumble to the sea!"
"Who knows," the birds called, "how many people will die!"
Hal Li Bu's mouth went dry as the drought. He dropped his bow to the ground and rushed back to his village to warn his people.
Hai Li bu stroked his chin. What should he do? If they wouldn't listen, should he flee and save himself? The villagers pressed closer. Like the wind that began to stir the treetops, they whispered among themselves.
How could he make them listen? He reached into his pouch and in his palm held out the round, luminous stone. But the villagers looked blankly at the stone and at Hai Li bu.
The hunter sighed. He studied the villagers' faces -- young an old -- more splendid than jewels. No. Of course he could never allow them to be destroyed.
Text copyright ? 2000 by Mary Casanova
Illustrations copyright ? 2000 by Ed Young