1990 Caldecott Medal: Lon Po Po

Lon Po Po is (as it is subtitled) a Red-Riding Hood story from China. It tells the story of three sisters, left at home alone, when their mother goes to visit their sick grandmother. That night a wolf knocks on the door and pretends to be the grandmother. Although the younger sisters hurry to let in their beloved grandmother, the oldest sister, Shang, is suspicious and eventually figures out how to trick the wolf into leaving their house (without eating anyone).

Ed Young both wrote and illustrated Lon Po Po. Young was born in China in 1931 and came to the U.S. 20 years later to study architecture. He soon discovered his true love was art and switched his major! The first children’s book Young illustrated, The Mean Mouse and Other Mean Stories written by Janice May Udry, was published in 1962. More than 80 more followed! In addition to his win in 1990 for Lon Po Po, Young had Caldecott Honor Books in 1967 (The Emperor and the Kite) and 1992 (Seven Blind Mice).

His illustrations are based in the philosophy of Chinese painting. In Lon Po Po, Young used pastels and watercolors to create beautiful, shadowy illustrations showing how children might mistake a wolf for a grandmother. The illustrations are split into panels, with text appearing in just a small part of the page.

I love reading fairy tales from other cultures (Cinderella stories from around the world are a particular favorite, which means I’ll definitely have to check out Yeh-Shen which is a Chinese Cinderella tale that Young illustrated). The wolf is a menacing presence in this version of Red Riding Hood, but never gets to the “eat you up” point, which actually made my 4-year-old daughter confused about why then they tricked the wolf outside and killed it. May be a little more appropriate for slightly older kids.

One of my Life List goals is to read all of the Caldecott winners. This is my ninth post about a Caldecott book. You can read the other Caldecott posts here.

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1990 Caldecott Medal: Lon Po Po

Two about Food

I’m back on a reading kick, which so far means reading my favorite types of books – mysteries and books about food. They are my total “comfort reading”. More on the mysteries later – now it’s time for food!

The first food book I read in the past week was No Reservations by Anthony Bourdain. I’ve been meaning to read some of his writing for a while, since folks seem to like it, so when I stopped by the library last week to pick up a book for the metro ride home, I thought I would pick up one of his. This was the only book by Bourdain on the shelf at the library, which is why I picked it. I didn’t take a good look at it before I left and I was surprised to find out that it was really more of a photo essay book, than a memoir or book of essays. It was fine, but didn’t give me much of a sense about Bourdain’s writing – although I really enjoy the essay about Beirut, where Bourdain found himself during Israel’s bombing back in 2006. It gave a real sense of what was lost in that bombing and made this event, which had been an abstract thing to me before, very personal.

Yesterday I finished Serve the People: A Stir-Fried Journey through China by Jen Lin-Liu, which combined three of my favorite book attributes: writing about food, writing about China, and memoirs. Lin-Liu is a Chinese-American journalist who moved to China in 2000 and eventually decides that she wants to learn how to cook. This book follows her through her course at a Chinese cooking school, studying for her chef exam, and then internships in Chinese restaurants, both small and grand. I found the book enjoyable and the descriptions of food interesting – some sounded delicious, some sounded like I would rather miss them (the restaurant that served the genitals of male animals, for example). I read about Lin-Liu and her book in the Food section of the Post a few weekends ago, and I’m glad I check it out. It made for an enjoyable weekend of reading.

Two about Food