Sion’s Misfortune

Karadi Tales. Sept. 2020. 40p. Tr $13.95. ISBN 9788193654255.
Gr 1-3–Sion is a fortune-teller, and readers are told that he is always right. After Sion’s horse runs away, the villagers are shocked to hear from Sion that this misfortune is a good thing. They continue to doubt him, even though he’s never been wrong. The runaway horse ends up being the first in a series of events that saves the life of Sion’s son. In illustrations reminiscent of Chinese folk art, dramatic vistas are powerful even if the domestic scenes are less remarkable. For instance, a war between two armies of thousands doesn’t show each individual warrior, but has the tension of monsters locked in battle over a small castle. The skewed perspective conveys an impressive sense of scale and imagination. However, the design, including the placement of text, feels haphazard. Some pages are only accompanied by a tiny picture, or no illustration at all. Large amounts of white space create a sense of emptiness not reflected in the story. Worse, Sion is a passive figure, cheerfully content with a chain of events that leads to the death of thousands because his son is not among the slain.
VERDICT Despite the caveats about design, this is nevertheless a worthwhile addition to folktale collections.

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