The Crane Maiden by Miyoko Matsutani

Another book that my children particularly enjoyed lately was The Crane Maiden written by Miyoko Matsutani and illustrated by Chihiro Iwasaki.  As an old Chinese man travels from his home to a nearby village he finds a large and beautiful crane caught in a trap.  When he tells his wife that he released the magnificent bird she assures him that he will be rewarded for his good deed.  Shortly thereafter, a young woman knocks on their door and is welcomed inside to eat and sleep.  Since this girl has no family, the couple The Crane Maideninvites her to stay as part of their family.  When she realizes that the couple is struggling financially, she offers to use an old loom to make cloth that can be sold, but requires that no one must look at her while she works.  After three days of work, her beautiful fabric is sold for a handsome price.  Later she offers again to make fabric with the same limitation of no one seeing her while she is busy at work, but this time the old woman peeks in and sees a crane working at the loom.  Immediately the woman leaves the loom, hands the fabric to the woman, and explains that she must leave since she has been seen as a bird.  She leaves the house as a woman, but flies away quickly as a crane.

Pros:  Again, my children loved this book!  Also, lessons of keeping promises and trust are easily taken from this story.

Cons:  There are mentions of pagan “gods” and some may not like the fanciful tale.

Age Range: 4-9

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