Crane's Gift, The

The Crane's Gift by Steve and Megumi Biddle, illustrated by Megumi Biddle. Boston,MA: Barefoot Books, Inc. 1994. $21.95 ISBN 1-56957-932-6 28 P

This retelling of the crane woman folk tale of Japan is a softer, gentler version of that story than I have read before. Many of the traditional elements are there: injured crane rescued by a kind man, the sudden appearance of the woman, promise not to look into the room where she is weaving and the breaking of that promise.

The BiddIes have set their story up so which teach gentle lessons and open our that the crane becomes the daughter to the old many who rescues her. The daughter weaves beautiful brocades for the old man and his wife to sell, becoming paler and thinner as she does so. The discovery scene conveys mostly wonder at what is happening rather than the shock and horror of other versions. There is no mention or picture of the bloodied chest of the bird, either. As such, it may be a better version to tell to younger children, although it would appeal to all ages.

Megumi Biddle's illustrations are truly lovely. Somehow, the colours and drawings seem to reinforce the gentle, peaceful nature of the story, in tandem with the language that creates the softer mood.

Steve Biddle is renowned as a professional paper folder, Megumi as a graphic artist designer and illustrator. Together they have designed paper items for ads, t.v., and film, and they have published several craft books. This is their first picture book; hopefully it will not be their last.

Reviewed by Marion Chiduck.

The Second Story Review, Vol 1, No. 1, March 1996
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