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The author of "The Ugly Duckling" and "The Little Mermaid" goes to China - sort of! This tale, by Hans Christian Andersen is set, outside of Beijing, rather than Copenhagen. Amy Lowry, the illustrator, retells this story from the place where she was trained to advance her artistic talent and learn draw on rice paper. You can tell from the pages have the background of this material.
I have stated in other reviews that I know Amy Lowry personally. This book is special to me because at our Gould Academy reunion in 2005, she went out of her want to autograph one of her copies she had and present it to me as a gift at a reunion party, and even had our picture taken of her presenting me with this book. This is a gift I cherish, and hopefully, this review will pay her in kind.
I would like to point out that it's worth buying and reading to your child also, and showing him or her the illustrations, regardless of whether I know the author. These illustrations can inspire the artistic talent in others, such as a drawing of the ground with the outlines of worms, caterpillars, other unnamed animals, plant roots, beets, to name a few. Lowry does the same thing with a tree, with the leaves showing outlines of birds, cats, and so on. The artwork, needless to say, is fascinating in its own way. One has to look deeply at the drawings, as in her other books. Every artist has their own style.
As for the story, it is set outside of Beijing, not Copenhagen, where a pea pod grows with five individual peas inside, each with a mind of its own. The first wants to fly with a raven to the Sun, the second to the Moon and meet up with a toad, the third and fourth wants to dine with the emperor, and the fifth will go where fate will take him. "What will happen will happen," says he. The peas are then released into the hands of a boy with a peashooter, and shoots each individual pea out in the air. Well, the first four get their wish, but not in the way they expected or hoped for. This could illustrate delusions of grandeur, or even arrogance, and what could truly result in the end; not getting what you want, but getting what life hands you, and sometimes, this could be a disappointment.
The fifth is more humble, and with a sense of fatalism, will accept whatever comes, good or bad. The pea lands at the window of a very sick girl, with winter about to set in. The pea is cold and covers himself up, but, as spring approaches, ends up growing in the moss. The girl, still sick, notices the pea beginning to sprout, and still sick, nourishes it until to grows into a flower. The plant has a positive effect on the girl, and one could guess what happens next.
Anyway, the story is of self-exaltation versus humility, and exaltation becomes humbled, and humility becomes exalted. It's in the Bible.
This is Amy Lowry's third book where she uses are art and her experiences in China to come out with a children's book that merges both East and West.
Again, I highly recommend this book, along with any other you might come across.