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Grade 3-6-Xi Wang Mu, Goddess of Immortality; Guanyin, Goddess of Mercy; Guan Gong, God of War; Zhong Kui, God of Healing-what a lineup! Some of these 17 colorful beings come from the Daoist tradition, some from Buddhism, some from traditional religions, and some from other sources, but all of them add to the richness of Chinese life. Fisher succinctly describes their origins, their powers, and their importance in Chinese culture. Each entry covers a boldly colored spread framed with a brightly contrasting border. These dramatic deities are pictured as mostly fierce and strong and somewhat distant, reflecting their power. Chops, or name seals, created for each god and goddess by Mou-sien Tseng, are shown, but their significance is not explained. A useful pronunciation guide is included. Song Nan Zhang's Five Heavenly Emperors (Tundra, 1994) and Tao Tao Liu Sanders's Dragons, Gods and Spirits from Chinese Mythology (Peter Bedrick, 1994; o.p.) cover some of the same material, but their focus is on the stories. Fisher concentrates on the individuals themselves and includes material not readily available elsewhere for children.
Barbara Scotto, Michael Driscoll School, Brookline, MA
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Gr. 2-5. Fisher continues his series about world deities with this picture-book overview of ancient Chinese mythology. Beginning with an introduction that mentions Qin Shi Huangdi, China's First Supreme Emperor, Fisher offers very brief historical and cultural background to China's deities, including the interesting point that the immortals often mirrored the status and behavior of human beings. Profiles of 17 gods and goddesses follow, each one presented on a double-page spread that includes a roughly brushed portrait opposite a few paragraphs summarizing the figure's corresponding legend. The condensed mythology may strike some as too abbreviated, and a few of the portraits appear a bit blurred and indistinct. But as in his previous mythology titles, Fisher combines concise, accessible language, colorful art, and exciting stories about figures that aren't often covered in books for youth. A note describing how the artist determined the gods' appearances might have been interesting, but with a bibliography, pronunciation guides, a glossary, and map, this will still be a useful addition to mythology units. Gillian Engberg
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