The Sheep Beauty: A Story in English and Chinese

tr. from Chinese by Wert Yijin. illus. by Jian Li. 42p. Better Link Press. 2014. Tr $16.95. ISBN 9781602209886.
Gr 1–4—Created and published in China, this tale honoring the Chinese zodiac is told in both Chinese and English. Perhaps originating in folklore—or maybe not—it's told very much in the style of legend. In Sheep Horn Village, a doctor once rescued a wounded sheep who returned his kindness when a monstrous animal appeared near the village, demanding that each family give him a child. Transforming herself into a beautiful girl, the sheep maiden leads the monster away and astray. Li's simple scenes, nicely sketched in blue and brown watercolors in ample white space, deftly depict the villagers, their homes, and the rugged countryside. The monster is an enormous tigerlike creature, and Sheep Beauty a modest young woman. When the monster has been lured away, the young woman again becomes a sheep and leaves the village. It's not the end of the story, though, and once more the sheep will magically intervene. Occasionally the English translation is a bit awkward, but the story is well shaped. A closing note lists the lunar years of the sheep in the Western calendar (2015) and describes the personal traits of "the docile and compassionate sheep." The story offers many reading and storytelling possibilities in addition to introducing and demonstrating the eighth sign of the Chinese zodiac.—Margaret Bush, Simmons College, Boston

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