This collection brings together three Japanese folktales where there is something very tempting that must not be opened. The first tale is of a young boy who saves a turtle and is invited to come under the sea to a magical kingdom. He stays for what he feels is a short amount of time, but when he goes back to the surface, it has been 30 years, and his family is gone. The queen of the ocean gave him a box before he left, and if he opens it, he’ll be taken back to the Ocean Kingdom. In the second story, a master tells his apprentices not to open a jar that supposedly contains a deadly poison, but they suspect has something delicious that their master wants to horde for himself. In the third tale, the main character saves a crane in the forest one day, and is visited by a beautiful young maiden the next. She is caught in a snow storm and he offers her shelter, and it turns into a much longer stay and an eventual marriage. In need of money, so goes into another room to spin some cloth and begs her young husband not to open the door despite what he might hear.
The three tales in these stories are famous Japanese folktales that might be familiar for some readers, but they don't quite follow the original storylines. Nimura does a wonderful job of making these classic stories a little bit his own, sort of like Disney-ifying them, but not necessarily always changing things to happier. All of these stories are a little bit unsettling; they don't all have neat resolutions that tidy everything up, but that's a pretty common thing amongst Japanese folktales.
In addition to sharing the theme of not opening something these stories share a color palette of mostly black and white with sprinkles of well-placed red highlighting something important. There are several splash pages that highlight Nimura's breathy pencil illustrations. The roughness is not something that will appeal to everyone, but it was the perfect style for these three stories.
Sara's Rating: 8/10
Suitability Level: Grades 7-12
Publisher: Yen Press
Publication Date: October 26, 2021
ISBN: 9781975325831 (Paperback)
Tags: Rating: 8/10, Suitability: Middle School, Suitability: High School, Graphic Fiction, Folklore, Yen Press
I've been reading manga and comicbooks for years. Now, I write reviews and other helpful things for School Librarians, teachers, parents, and students.
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