Ages 6 to 8
Pelican Publishing, 2003, 1-58980-077-X
Chuan and his master, the painter, finally have all they need to leave the oasis where they have been living for some months. At last they can go home to the palace of the warlord, their "protector." The artist finds that a group of travellers are going to be leaving the oasis shortly and he and Chuan join them.
Among their fellow travellers there is a puppeteer and his daughter and Chuan soon makes friends with the soft spoken girl. He learns that the puppets that they use are very special and carefully crafted.
Then one day the travellers are attacked by bandits and all their goods, their valuables, their animals, and most importantly their provisions, are taken from them. The puppet master is especially upset because his means of making a living, his puppets, were also taken. Chuan feels sorry for the puppeteer and decides to make him a new puppet using a melon. The boy carefully carves the puppet's head but it is too big and it is suggested that he should use a radish instead to make the head.
Soon the puppeteer has a whole collection of puppets with vegetables for heads and with bodies make from fabrics donated by the other travellers in the party. Hopefully the puppet master will be able to use the new puppets to make a living and to get back on his feet.
This beautifully crafted tale is not only a wonderful story to read and listen to. It also describes an art form which is not often appreciated in the west - puppet shows. At the back of the book the reader will find a short section about the history of puppet shows in China and also a description of how the reader can make a puppet at home.
Lavish illustrations capture the essence of Chuan's world with its breathtaking scenery and its colourful people.
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