I think Tales from the Bamboo Grove might be out of print, therefore, I am writing this review for those who might find it hidden on the library shelves, in a sale, or hiding among your own collection. Also, to promote the other books she had written is the other point of the review.
Several months ago, I learned that Yoko Kawashima Watkins had passed. I had enjoyed both So Far from the Bamboo Grove and My Brother, My Sister, and I. Those two novels tell the story of Watkins growing up in North Korea, the child of a father who was a Japanese diplomat. During World War II, Watkins family had to flee from their home. Later, living in Japan, the story continues in the second novel.
This time, Tales is about the stories passed down from their parents, friends, and culture. These are lovely folklores that had special meanings to the author. One was told to show the injustices of the farmers and lords (The Fox Wife); one showed that hard work paid off; another about the vanity of a pretty girl (The Dragon Princess) and even being cruel to others (Monkey and Crab). These were stories told to connect them with their past and their parents’ lives.
Each story, lovingly illustrated by Jean Tseng and Mou-Sien Tseng, are collected here. Not only does Watkins connect us to her childhood, but to the values she grew up with. The artwork compliments the stories and shows the relationship to the culture. While all ages could enjoy, the format is aimed at a slightly older child.