Monday, May 10, 2010

The Seeing Stick by Jane Yolen

Pages: 30
Ages: 4+
Publication: Already Available
Illustrated by: Daniela Jaglenka Terrazzini

A blind princess lives her life oblivious to some of the beautiful things that surround her. Because of her handicap, the princesses father decides to seek help for her, but no one seems to be able to. When an old man from far away comes to town and says he can help the princess, the guards are skeptical, until he shows them the seeing stick. Thus, the princess begins to learn the fine art of seeing by other means than her eyes.

The Seeing Stick is a charming folk tale set in ancient China.  Readers will feel sympathy for the princess and her distraught father as she lives in darkness and he tries to find a cure.  Readers will also feel awe and inspiration as the old man carves his stick with scenes for the princess to "see."  

Terrazzini beautifully illustrates the story with imagination and vivid imagery.  The first image of the book is dark and dreary with only a few smoky reds and greens added sparingly, then as the princess and her world begin to brighten, color is added more liberally.  The first full-color illustration is 10 pages in.  The choice to slowly add color to the illustrations reflects the story's plot and creates a way for readers to identify with the princess as she begins to see things herself. 

An added bonus to this book is that readers can "see" some of the portraits the way that the princess does.  Raised, glossy pages, add texture (literally) to the story, and make this book a tactile reading experience.  The seeing stick comes to life in and on the pages of the book!

Rating: 4 Pages  

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