Monday, March 19, 2012

"Shen of the Sea" by Arthur Bowie Chriman

"Shen of the Sea" was the 1926 recipient of the Newbery Medal.  I was afraid of this book because the 1925 Newbery winner, "Tales from Silver Lands" was a collection of short stories from South America, and it bored the socks off me.  I didn't complete it.  Imagine how thrilled I was to find the next Newbery book to be a collection of Chinese short stories for children.  But I enjoyed it immensely better--I mean, I finished it!  Woohoo!  I don't know if I could exactly pin-point the reason I enjoyed "Shen" when "Tales" was unbearable.  Simple things as the brevity of the short stories, a less florid yet quicker-paced telling.  And the stories were humorous and I think children would be able to grasp the irony of humanity in them.  I have absolutely no idea of any of these stories are genuine to Chinese culture, but the author supposedly spent a great deal of time studying Chinese and Indian cultures, I suspect if he did fabricate them it wasn't without a solid base of knowledge.

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